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Bermuda Run supports new I-40 interchange

BERMUDA RUN – While moving forward to engage the Development Finance Initiative to identify potential development partners for a boutique or upscale hotel, the town announced its intention to support a new interchange just down the road on I-40 at Baltimore Road.

Mayor Ken Rethmeier announced at last Tuesday night’s meeting that all 40 of the town’s points for the Metropolitan Planning Organization’s prioritization and point assignment process would go toward the interchange project, joining Davie County in the effort.

This supports a study by Kimley-Horn in 2016 that recommends an interchange on I-40 between Exit 180 (NC 801) and Exit 174 (Farmington Road) to help accommodate industrial traffic, primarily generated from the Ashley Furniture distribution center.

“In concert and consultation with the county government, the Town of Bermuda Run was pleased to allocate all 40 of our points to the same project they are – and that is the interchange at Baltimore Road,” Rethmeier said. “And that foregoes widening US 158 from the bridge down to the intersection (at NC 801) and widening 801 north of the hospital, of all places, around to Baltimore Road. Those are not high priority. The interchange at Baltimore Road is a high priority given the amount of traffic we are seeing out of Ashley Furniture going and coming.”

Town Manager Lee Rollins said that Pat Ivey, Division 9 engineer, will be at the Nov. 8 meeting to provide an update on the timeline and status of the I-40 widening project and other projects planned in the out years that are already assigned a State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) number. Rollins said that there would an opportunity in that meeting to ask questions regarding the other projects within the Bermuda Run and east Davie area.

After calling a special meeting Aug. 28 to allow the Development Finance Initiative to make a public presentation and seek any feedback from folks that might be interested in the hotel project on a three-acre tract adjacent to the WinMock barn, the council approved a resolution to allow DFI to put together a request for proposal to determine the feasibility of the proposed hotel.

“I will remind you,” Rollins told the council, “that part of this whole process is to allow the private sector to tell us what is feasible and what is not and yet still give the town the ability to be able to have some say-so into who goes on that property.”

Rollins said the resolution portrays the work being done as a result of the adoption of the update to the Comprehensive Plan in November 2017, including participating in projects to boost town center activity within Kinderton at Bermuda Run and recruiting a boutique hotel adjacent to the WinMock events center to capitalize on the town’s location to draw visitors and add to the economic base.

“I think it’s good that it says boutique or upscale hotel,” said councilman Mike Ernst, “and that the investors, whoever they might be, would then come back and tell us what they think makes sense.”

Before the approval of the resolution, Barbara Martin spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting. She questioned who was doing the study about occupancy rates of hotels in Bermuda Run and Clemmons and said that the average rate of less than $100 a night made her wonder about charging higher rates for a boutique or upscale hotel and visitors coming into the area being prepared to spend more.

Also in the meeting, town officials reported an estimated crowd of 1,500 attended the most recent “Sounds on the Square” free summer concert series when On the Border (Ultimate Eagles Tribute Band) performed on Sept. 8.

Next, the town and Davie County Arts Council will feature the River Walk Arts Festival, including live music, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 at Town Center on Kinderton Blvd., followed by the Special Occasion Band on Saturday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m.