Davidson County improvements will combine history and river access

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Davidson County is moving closer to transforming an area some of us drive by every day.

Steve Shell is the Davidson County Board of Commissioners chairman. Shell explains the master plan for the York Hill Yadkin River Access calls for combining river fun with history.

With the help of multiple sources like grants and donations, supporters are preparing to break ground on an $800,000 project that will improve access to the river along with providing better parking and picnic locations. Shelters will also be placed along the historic Wil-Cox Bridge. The bridge is only open to foot traffic and carries bikers or walkers across the Yadkin River into Rowan County. Shell adds Rowan County leaders are looking at the idea of extending the walkway from the Wil-Cox Bridge to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer. This could turn the Davidson-Rowan border into a tourist destination.

"I believe with all of my heart this will be not only a Davidson County venture, but a regional venture," Shell said.

In 2016, tourists spent $160 million in Davidson County. Shell believes improving the river access will be a big deal for people who live in the Piedmont and businesses that are looking to relocate.

"We want to send a message that if you are a private investor looking to build or expand, don't overlook Davidson County," he said. ​

The ​plan also calls for highlighting a piece of American history. The Civil War era Fort York sits near the Wil-Cox Bridge. Chris Phelps is the executive director of Tourism Recreation Investment Partnership or TRIP. According to Phelps, overgrowth and time are covering historical artifacts.

"There are still rifle pits, batteries and entrenchments that are still original and intact. Probably some of the best earthwork fortifications that are left unharmed," Phelps said.

Davidson County Board of Commissioners will select a contractor and plan to break ground by August. To keep the excitement about the river access project going, you can help choose a name for the 35-acre park.