US 17 bypass brought prosperity, I-87 will bring more


Calvin Lacy

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Guest columnist Peter Thomson's narrow view of the proposed 1-87 project hits a sore spot for many area commuters. He should apologize to the hundreds who use the bypass twice daily on their way to work in Virginia. I remember grousing to fellow workers about talk of widening U.S. Highway 17 to Virginia. I said it would never happen in my lifetime, if ever.

But then a fellow worker mockingly assured me that it would happen, laughingly adding, "It'll cut 25-30 minutes off your commute." I said, “Yeah, right. Thanks a lot for your concerns.” But then it did happen — after I retired — in spite of the pessimism.

Which brings us back to Thomson's nattering negativism regarding the proposed I-87. Like most people I've traveled the interstate highway system all over America and I've yet to see an overpass where there was not some degree of prosperity. It's impossible not to see the tall signs advertising for gasoline, motels, restaurants, shopping centers, etc. But if you take the off-ramp and travel past the tall signs in either direction, the four lanes rapidly dwindle, in most cases, to two. The point is, prosperity abounds at the interstate highway overpasses where formerly none existed.

The same is true with the proposed I-87 out by the Elizabeth City Walmart, where it's impossible not to notice the growth of prosperity at the overpass. Before the wonderful new four-lane highway, there was nothing but cotton fields and tater patches. Take your blinders off next time you drive by at 70 mph, which, in case you didn’t notice, is another sign of growth. Perhaps an interstate highway in your neighborhood isn't a guarantee for success but it's a very good start toward that goal.

Another benefit to interstate highways are the nearby towns that busy themselves remodeling and upgrading infrastructure in order to compete for the business. Just look at Elizabeth City.

And please stop the pandering for education. A little reality is needed here, folks. Elizabeth City isn't Silicon Valley. We don't produce many Steve Jobs or Bill Gates in these parts. We're farmers and day laborers and that's not likely to change any time soon. 

Calvin Lacy