By Nathan Ham
Boone town officials and representatives from the North Carolina Department of Transportation will be meeting again on Tuesday, April 23 at 10 a.m. to talk about the Highway 105 Superstreet Project.
The meeting will be taking place at the town council chambers located at 1500 Blowing Rock Road.
The NCDOT will be there with maps to show the updated draft of how Highway 105 Superstreet will look and be there to answer questions from residents and business owners that want to come to the meeting.
This meeting is being held by the town council to hear additional community concerns about the project and to have the NCDOT on hand to answer any additional questions.
“The Town of Boone appreciates the DOT’s willingness to attend an additional meeting and to provide more information to the community as the town council is faced with making decisions concerning this very important corridor within our town limits. Safety, efficient transportation, bike lanes, sidewalks, lighting, safe crosswalks, existing business impacts and future business development are all factors that must be considered during this process,” said Boone Town Manager John Ward. “The Town of Boone Council will be making a recommendation in the near future to DOT concerning this project and it is important that the council has as much information as possible from DOT. I encourage all interested individuals and businesses to attend this very important public meeting.”
This meeting comes on the heels of a previous town council meeting on March 21 where the council held off on voting to approve or not approve the latest NCDOT road plans for the Highway 105 Superstreet. On March 19, the Watauga County Commissioners voted unanimously to support the new proposal and support whatever decision that town of Boone decided to make.
Opinions on the road project have been fairly unified since the initial draft was first released in September of 2018 with a lot of concern from business owners, residents and town officials.
“I am not prepared to support this. I have to say I found the attitude of DOT incredibly disturbing, number one. What they said to us essentially was, ‘This is this design for the highway. You either take it or leave it. If you don’t do it, we will never do anything to this road even though we recognize there are safety concerns,’” said councilman Sam Furgiuele at March’s meeting.
Furgiuele was also critical of the NCDOT for not presenting these changes to the public before asking for a yes or no vote.
“They didn’t invite the public, there wasn’t an opportunity for people to react. There’s so little detail, people don’t even know what they’re reacting to, he said. “I would say, on the face of it, it appears to be better than the first thing, but I think that the first plan was disastrous for the town. It looks like a superhighway coming through town to move traffic fast from outside of town to the center of town, not to serve the residents; I don’t think the town residents or the business really even enter into the formula.”
Other council members were not exactly thrilled with the project, but understood the reasons why the NCDOT wanted to improve this road and make it safer for traffic.
“Though I am frustrated, as many of the community are with the lack of details in the concept presented by DOT, I don’t want to miss the opportunity for much needed safety and road improvements for this section of 105,” said councilwoman Lynne Mason, “I would support a resolution in support of this project, but with the stipulation that DOT conduct a public planning meeting with local elected officials and citizens due to the many remaining questions with the concept.”
Councilman Marshall Ashcraft echoed the same sentiments as Mason in terms of safety and funding.
“I would not be willing to vote against the proposal, however, because I feel like we cannot walk away from these improvements,” said Ashcraft. “I would like to have more information, if I had to vote one way or the other, I would not vote against this proposal. I don’t think we can walk away from the possibility of doing something, even if it’s less than perfect.”