By Nathan Ham
Following up a large collection of public comments and input from town and county officials, the North Carolina Department of Transportation and the Town of Boone have yet to come together for a meeting to discuss potential changes for the project.
According to Ramie Shaw, the Division Project Team Lead for Highway Division 11, as of now the meeting has not been scheduled.
“We have just received some requested revisions to the N.C. 105 project from our consultant that we are reviewing. We are planning to meet with the town and county soon to discuss and review these changes with them,” Shaw said in an email.
Public and business support for changes to the original draft grew quickly after business owners, town residents and town officials spoke out at several different meetings, including a public meeting with the NCDOT held in October of 2018 and followed up in Boone Town Council and Watauga County Commissioner meetings.
The initial draft of the Highway 105 Superstreet plan was designed to limit left hand turns on and off of the road and force drivers to use special U-turn “bulb outs” if they wish to make left turns.
Some of the major complaints with the first draft came from business owners on the northern end of Highway 105 where drivers would have to proceed through the stop light at the Blowing Rock Road intersection, continue up the hill and make a U-turn, come back down the hill through that intersection again to turn into businesses such as Peabody’s Wine and Beer, Courtyard by Marriott and 1st Tracks Ski Shop.
“I’ve worked my entire career to be able to afford a property at this main intersection on Highway 105 for a retail establishment. With this plan, they’re going to ruin it as a retail spot. I would expect to do half the business that has taken me 40 years to develop by losing that customer base because they can’t get in here,” said Jeff Collins, owner of Peabody’s Wine and Beer Merchant, in a previous High Country Press article. “Highway 105 is not an interstate highway, it doesn’t need to be divided off. It needs to be made accessible. Slow traffic down, put in turn lanes, put in bike lanes, fix the sidewalks that are in shambles and make it a small town, business-friendly street.”
The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, the Boone Town Council and the Watauga County Commissioners all sent letters to the NCDOT requesting that changes be considered for this superstreet proposal.
The NCDOT referenced improving safety and alleviating traffic congestion as the main reasons for why this proposal has been put together for Highway 105. The new road design would also allow for an extra travel lane for those who choose to ride their bicycle.
The estimated cost of the project would be $10.59 million, according to the NCDOT documents shared at the public meeting held at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute back in October. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled to begin on June of this year with construction starting in June of 2021.