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City nets $250K grant for Oxford Heights access

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The city of Elizabeth City has won a $250,000 Golden LEAF grant to use toward a "replacement/relocation" project for the entryway into the Oxford Heights neighborhood. Currently the only entryway is the Providence Road bridge, which the city plans to either replace or close.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Elizabeth City has won a $250,000 grant for an access road into the Oxford Heights neighborhood, though where and when the road will be built is still unclear.

City Manager Rich Olson said Monday that the Golden LEAF Foundation, a state-funded nonprofit organization, has approved the city's grant for $250,000 for a “replacement/relocation” project for the entryway to Oxford Heights. That would supplement $500,000 the city has budgeted toward the project.

The project intends to solve the problem of Oxford Heights' 60-year-old, badly worn bridge on Providence Road, the primary access route into the neighborhood.

Olson told City Council this summer that the bridge needs to replaced “as soon as possible,” but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers won't allow the city to build a new bridge higher than the old one. That means the city could spend around $1 million on a new bridge that would remain vulnerable to flooding, Olson said.

The city's preferred alternative remains building an entirely new route into Oxford Heights and removing the bridge from service, Olson said Monday. Golden LEAF supports that plan and will allow the city to use the grant toward either the new road or the new bridge, he said.

The new route would enter Oxford Heights from the north, crossing railroad tracks and connecting the neighborhood to City Center Boulevard. Providence Road enters the neighborhood from the south.

In another project update, Olson said railroad companies have ruled out the city's plans to acquire 1618 Lexington Drive. An access road crossing that property would be too close to a railroad switch, Olson said.

That means the city is looking at four possible sites for the new road, with all sites within 1,000 feet of each other, Olson said.

The road's uncertain location means the project's costs are unclear, Olson also said, noting the costs of property acquisition and railroad expenses, including securing permission to cross the tracks and any road work needed at the crossing. The city will try to complete the work with the $750,000 available, he said.

The city is working with the Norfolk Southern, Chesapeake and Albemarle, and Genessee and Wyoming railroad companies, Olson said.

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