NCDOT spends thousands to paint lines in grass

Neighbors upset over 'dangerous' road

MT. ULLA, NC (WBTV) - Some haphazardly painted lines on roads in Rowan County have residents doing a double take and demanding answers.

One resident in Mt. Ulla, an unincorporated town in western Rowan County, called On Your Side Investigates after years of frustration with a road near her house.

Mia Holshouser said she and her neighbors have begged NCDOT crews to widen Centenary Church Road for years. The road is only 16 feet wide, according to a the DOT. Stand on the side of the road at any given moment and you can see tractor trailers struggling to pass each other on the road or small cars having to swerve to avoid hitting mirrors.

According to Holshouser, road planners promised a wider road years ago. Instead of widening it, though, NCDOT spent $85,000 to re-pave and stripe the road. The refresh left the road in worse shape than before, according to neighbors.

Instead of painting the white lines on the right edges of the road, the lines make a zigzag in the gravel and grass shoulder of the road.

"You've got to be kidding me. I stopped my vehicle, I backed up, I got out of my car, took pictures of it and called you guys," Holshouser said when she first saw the lines painted outside of the road. "I couldn't believe that we paid someone to paint the grass."

A spokeswoman for NCDOT refused to give an exact cost of how much taxpayers actually paid for the paint job but estimates show the cost for Centenary Church Road was roughly 14-hundred dollars for just the paint!

JP Couch, a traffic engineer for NCDOT, said the mis-painted lines are the result of deteriorating road conditions and the fact that the machine that paints the lines is actually wider than the road.

"What I think you're actually seeing is the road is not a consistent width," Couch said. "It goes and varies and there's broken off pieces of the shoulder. If you look at it, that paint is actually sitting on the edge of where it broke off in a  lot of places."

Holshouser and her neighbors are worried the painted grass will cause drivers to run off the road. But Couch said the lines painted in the grass don't actually pose any safety risk.

"It's not even a requirement for us to place edge lines on roads that are less than 20 feet in width," Couch explained.

When On Your Side Investigates drove out to look at the lines painted on Centenary Church Road, lines on other roads raised red flags, too.

The white lines on Knox Road were similarly crooked and, at times, in the grass. An estimate based on information provided by the cost of paint by the NCDOT shows the state spent more than $600 painting that mile and a half stretch of road.

And on Umberger Road, a NCDOT spokeswoman confirmed crews had to paint the center yellow line twice during their last touch up in 2011 because an inexperienced employee painted one lane more narrow than the other.

A NCDOT spokeswoman said the cost of that mistake was $1,393.92.

Mia Holshouser said she wishes NCDOT would've saved the money on re-paving and re-painting lines in the grass to widen her road instead.

Couch, the NCDOT engineer, said Centenary Church Road is scheduled to be widened by the end of the summer.

"Fix it right, you wasted our money," Holshouser said. "Do what you said you were going to do but do it properly."

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