NCDOT Ignores Road Danger for Years
Updated: Jan 16
*Update* Merritt Gravel Pit destroyed part of the work completed by NCDOT. NCDOT took no action against MGP for the destruction, despite the NCDOT using taxpayer money to complete the work at MGP.
*Update*NC Leaks send a HUGE thank you to NCDOT for addressing this dangerous road situation. Between April 8-9, 2020, NCDOT sent a crew out to install 72 feet of concrete pipe, which Merritt Gravel Pit needed to purchase, under the gravel pit entryway. After the installation, the crew then performed a long-overdue grading of the gravel pit drive so that rocks from the pit do not flow onto the roadway during storm events. Finally, the crew dug out the culverts below so that storm water would stay in the grass area and not flow to the road.
Here is an Orange County arterial road located in Chapel Hill (Town of Carrboro jurisdiction as ETJ) impacted by Merritts Gravel Pit grit, soil and rock erosion since 2007:
This gravel and rock is flowing onto neighboring property and into the road.
On February 7, 2020 NC Leaks requested documents from NCDOT related to the issue on Damascus Church Road. NC Leaks has been communicating with NCDOT since August 17, 2018. To our initial complaint (tracking number F13SQTL586), we received the following ("merritts" refers to the owners of the Merritt Gravel Pit):
Talked to Merritts to clean off
So, in response to our alerting NCDOT to the dangerous road conditions, NCDOT "talked to Merritts to clean off" and then closed the issue.
On February 6, 2020, after many, many email and telephone communications with various folks at NCDOT, we sent one last email to the two main employees with whom we had communicated, Shawn Smith and DeAngelo Jones. To this day, neither men have ever responded.
"Gentleman, I'm done with this. I am going to escalate this to the highest and most public levels I can find. If it's your choice to ignore the damage that the Merritt Gravel Pit in driveway is doing to my property and to the roads, go right ahead. You will be sorry when this becomes public or when someone wrecks their car sliding on this crap all over the road. I will have email after email showing and telling you about it and silence from the North Carolina Department of Transportation. This is the last time I'm going to email the two of you. I am going to escalate starting this afternoon.
I find your moral compass and your ability to do your job disgusting. I have absolutely no respect for either one of you."
However, NC Leaks did receive a response from others at NCDOT. Within a couple of days, road crews were on site and preparing to resolve the situation. Unfortunately, they have based their solution on the Merritt Gravel Pit's promise to purchase a 72-foot concrete pipe to go under their driveway. So far, no pipe has been purchased.
Below is also a copy of our FOIA request for public records relating to the money NCDOT has spent addressing issues with the gravel pit. Remember, if the government is spending money, YOU are the financial backing. You and your salary.
Shouldn't Merritt be handling the problem he is creating?
What Is Your Public Records Request?
On at least two occasions over the last year, NCDOT has sent heavy equipment and several men to remove large amounts of Chapel Hill Grit from the right-of-way. How much this is costing taxpayers? Please consider that question an official Freedom of Information Act request. I would like all documents pertaining to the clean-up on the strip of road from 3200 to 3100 Damascus Church Road. Are taxpayers aware they are required to subsidize the Merritt Gravel Pit?
Date Requested: 2/7/2020 11:06 AM
We are still waiting for the records release.