Burlington city council votes to take back grant application

Piedmont Triad News

BURLINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — Burlington’s city council wants to wait a little longer to consider improvements to Maple Avenue.

“This is the core gateway into our city, and it is the first face we put on to the world as they visit Burlington,” said Burlington Mayor Ian Baltutis.

Maple Avenue’s face might have to wait a little longer for a lift. The road runs from I-85 to the heart of Burlington.

“This corridor is the single greatest area of economic opportunity in our city, so a dollar invested here will return more dollars back to our community,” Baltutis said.

A committee of citizens and local leaders worked for the past three years to figure out a way to help Maple Avenue.

After many versions of the plan, they zeroed in on a one and one half mile stretch from the interstate to Anthony Road.

The plan includes realigning roads, adding traffic circles, bike lanes and sidewalks and even cutting down the amount of lanes in certain sections.

The city submitted a grant application earlier in the year with unanimous support to the federal government for $25 million to help Maple Avenue.

In a 3-2 vote Tuesday night, the council decided to take that application back.

Council members Butler and Owen voiced concerns about the overall cost of the project and the portions of Maple Avenue that are left out.

“If we go forward, and lets just say we got the grant, and the cost of this thing is $50 million, I don’t believe we can meet that requirement. I don’t see us having that much money out there,” Owen said.

The council members that voted to pull back the application emphasized in the meeting they support improvements to Maple Avenue.

“I’m not saying scrap this thing…let’s just get this right and be sure we can move forward with it and that it’s digestible,” Butler said.

The change of heart has the mayor scratching his head.

“There’s a collective air of shock and disappointment because we’ve spent years working with the community to craft this vision,” Baltutis said.

Since the application is pulled out of consideration, the city will not be able to apply for the federal grant again until next year.

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