By DEUCE NIVEN
It’s not going to be possible to name one of Columbus County’s most prominent bridges in honor of Master Trooper Kevin Conner, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper killed in the line of duty last month.
Columbus County Commissioners last week adopted a resolution asking the North Carolina Department of Transportation to name the US 74/US 701 bridge at Whiteville in honor of Trooper Conner.
That request has not formally been received by the DOT, but District Engineer Kenneth Clark, in an e-mail to commissioner’s board clerk June Hall Tuesday, said the bridge has already been named in honor of someone else.
Family members of the late Hezekiah Pridgen Sr. saw news reports of plans to name the bridge for Conner, contacted Clark and told him the bridge had been named in honor of Pridgen decades ago.
County commissioners in 1995 had asked for the honor for Pridgen. Clark provided a copy of that request dated Feb. 13, 1995 in the email to county government.
“I was not aware of this until the Pridgen family saw it in the news and brought it to my attention,” Clark wrote. “The Pridgen family is in full support of naming a bridge for Trooper Conner but the naming opportunity for the US 74/US 701 bridge is already taken.”
Commissioners had initially discussed naming the bridge on US 74 at NC 242 for Trooper Conner, and that remains an option, though board members last week said they wanted a more prominent bridge to be named.
There are opportunities on other bridges, Clark said, including some planned but not yet built including one on US 74 at Hallsboro Road.
Bridges can be named as early as six months before their construction is complete, Clark said, with the Hallsboro Road bridge currently at least a year from completion.