A few still ride dirt roads in city
Retired furniture worker Micki Granberry resides along a section of dirt road covered partially by rocks and gravel — but she’s far from living out in the country.
Her modest but comfortable home is on Ennis Street about a block from the busy city thoroughfare of Ward Avenue. Granberry could hop in a car and, in a moment, arrive in the High Point Market showroom district downtown.
But when the retired furniture worker looks down from the small, unenclosed porch of her house, she sees a road that looks like it should be in an outlying part of rural Guilford County. Sitting on the porch, Granberry and any visitor hear the wheels of a passing vehicle make a crackling sound as rubber tires grind against the rocks and gravel.
“I’ve lived around her all my life, and it’s never been paved. It’s something you get used to,” Granberry said about the two-block segment of Ennis that reaches from Clinton Avenue to Tryon Avenue in the southwestern part of the city.
Granberry said that she doesn’t mind living on one of the few remaining unpaved roads in the city. Other than occasional dust floating from the roadbed, she has no issues with a dirt road for her city address.
The quarter-mile section of Ennis is one of the longest segments of dirt roads remaining in High Point. The city lists 23 sections of roads as substandard, which means they may be dirt, covered in gravel or have pavement but not meet modern standards for a city-maintained street.
There are 577 miles of paved city-maintained and state-maintained roadways in High Point, according to the city Engineering Services Department. By contrast, the city only has 0.55 miles of dirt roads.
Some of the unpaved streets are short end-pieces of roads not much longer than driveways, said Engineering Services Director Keith Pugh.
On Ennis, the unpaved two-block portion is faced by about a dozen small homes and some vacant houses. A short part of Ennis off of Ward is paved before it becomes dirt. Then the road becomes paved again after crossing Tryon.
Members of Mike Hagy’s family live in a one-story house along Ennis. While he said he’s surprised the segment of the street hasn’t been paved, he said it isn’t a big problem for his relatives.
“The only thing is there can be a lot of dust when the kids are playing in the yard. Pavement would help that,” said the 52-year-old truck driver.
Hagy said living on an unpaved road actually can serve as a conversation-starter.
“When you are giving someone directions and say you live on an unpaved road, they think you live in the country,” Hagy said. “They’re surprised when you say you live in the middle of the city.”
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The odds of living on a dirt street within the city of High Point edge toward the chances of getting struck by lightning or winning a lottery jackpot.
The city has 0.55 miles of unpaved, or soil, streets segments, some of which amount to a few hundred feet or less in length. By contrast, the city has 577 miles of total paved roads within the city’s borders.
“That half-mile represents a handful of different streets. There are some fairly short sections out there,” said Keith Pugh, city Engineering Services director. “The history behind these is that you probably have different stories for each on how they wound up the way they are.”
Some areas where the city has dirt roads resulted from subdivision or housing developments that never panned out as intended.
“In several of those cases, you may have had a property owner using that dirt road to get back to another tract of land. Over time, they brought in gravel for the road,” he said. “It’s a dedicated right of way for an unimproved street.”
In the recent past, the city has relinquished oversight over some segments of dirt roads, Pugh said.
“They were primarily serving as a driveway. Notices were sent to adjacent property owners that we were going to abandon this right of way. Then the property would revert back to a driveway, basically,” Pugh said.
The lengths of unpaved or substandard streets in the city limit range from as long as about a quarter-mile to as short as 50 to 80 feet, according to Engineering Services records.
Pugh said city officials have discussed at some point paving the remaining unsurfaced streets in the city. But at this point no money has been designated for the purpose.
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