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Cornelius News

A bridge too ugly? Town says no lipstick

In 2015 an Observer headline asked if the Exit 28 Bridge design was ‘a big fail’

By Dave Vieser. In 2015, then-Cornelius Mayor Chuck Travis announced that Gov. Pat McCrory would dedicate the new nautical-themed bridge at Exit 28. McCrory never made that trip, and the town’s investment in public art seems like a shipwreck. Million-dollar plans for additional decorations have finally been scrapped.

Resident Rick Monroe, speaking at a Town Board meeting, said spending more money on the bridge was like “putting lipstick on a pig.”

Specifically, a plan to spend $1.39 million on “aesthetics” was cut to just $200,000. Some of that money was used to increase the hourly rate paid to town firefighters from $13 an hour to $15 an hour.

Town Manager Andrew Grant says priorities have changed over the past several years.

“The original proposed budget amount of $1.39 million was established by a previous Town Board with the intent of providing both hardscape and significant landscape features,” Grant said.

“During the recent budget process, the Town Board and Town staff discussed reducing the amount in light of the significant number of high priority capital projects coming our way over the next five years, including numerous transportation projects that will help alleviate congestion.”

Back in 2015, the Observer said criticism of the hoped-for tourist destination included the fact that the “masts are too short. The metal cables, too thin. The scale is off, and the whole thing is hard to see from the highway.”

Former Mayor Lynette Rinker called it “a classic fail” in the Observer story.

Grant said the $200,000 allocation will pay for modest landscape improvement at the interchange.

Commissioner Dave Gilroy, who served on the board during the design and construction of the Diverging Diamond, said the $200,000 will be spread out over a number of years to fund landscape improvements.

Meanwhile, town officials said the Diverging Diamond itself—not the artistic superstructure—has reduced accidents based on a reduction in left-hand turns. “I feel comfortable stating that the reduction in accidents and severity of accidents has continued to remain lowered in recent years when compared to pre-DDI years,” Grant said.