JEFFERSON —Local officials continue to push toward the possibility of naming a section of U.S. 221 in honor of former North Carolina State Senator Steve Goss – but, one obstacle could stand in their way.
That’s according to Jefferson Town Manager Cathy Howell who says that naming the section for Goss might be challenging since U.S. 221 between Baldwin and Jefferson is already named the “Robert G. Barr Expressway.”
Goss, who died Oct. 26, 2015 following a brief battle with cancer, served the people of Alexander, Ashe, Watauga and Wilkes Counties for two terms, from 2007 to 2010, as a Democratic member of the North Carolina State Senate.
According to Jefferson Aldermen Charles Caudill, during his time as a senator, Goss – along with former NC House member Cullie Tarleton – was instrumental in the U.S. 221 expansion project which is transforming the curvy two-lane road into a four-lane highway with a divided median. For this reason, he believes naming a portion of U.S. 221 in Goss’s honor to be a fitting tribute.
The U.S. 221 expansion project has been in development for years now, but Vannoy Construction only started work on the project in April of this year. The massive $154 million project will take at least 15 years to finish, according to NCDOT officials, which puts the completion date sometime in early 2030.
But Caudill said that it’s because of Goss that the work has started this soon.
Caudill first proposed the idea of naming the first completed section of US-221 – stretching from the intersection of NC-194 in Baldwin to the intersection of NC-163 in West Jefferson – during a Jefferson Board of Aldermen meeting on Dec. 29.
Since then, Ashe County Commissioners voted in favor of a resolution to name the U.S. 221 section for Goss on Jan. 19. The Jefferson Board of Alderman also decided to move forward with a similar resolution during their meeting on Jan. 25 despite the potential conflict.
NCDOT weighs in on the issue
According to Lee Wing of NCDOT, the section could still be named for Goss.
Wing said that local municipalities would have to pass a resolution requesting to rename the section of U.S. 221 that was named for Robert G. Barr more than 30 years ago. The request would then be reviewed by NCDOT.
Jefferson Alderman Mark Johnston said that if NCDOT wouldn’t allow it, then another local road could be named in his memory instead.
Hannah Myers can be reached at 336-846-7164 or on Twitter @cmedia_hmyers.