By Nathan Ham
At Thursday’s meeting between the North Carolina Department of Transportation and officials from the Town of Boone and Watauga County, it appears the project is now up to the town to decide what they want to do with it.
Several changes from the NCDOT were presented to town and county officials, including adding a U-turn bulb-out prior to the Blowing Rock Road intersection, a U-turn bulb-out near the Ingles shopping center and a left turn lane from the Highway 105 Bypass onto Highway 105.
According to the NCDOT, however, the option of adding a center turn lane from the Blowing Rock Road intersection down to the 105 Bypass intersection is out of the question due to safety concerns.
“They (NCDOT) are asking the town and county to approve the concept first and if they do, they will go further to provide more detail. I’m thinking they don’t want to go into a lot of detail if people are rejecting the superstreet. From what I’m hearing, the median has to be in there,” Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque said. “The median is there for the protection of limiting some of the turns.”
Geouque added that he felt like the new design was better than the original draft, but acknowledged that you can’t make everyone happy.
“Regardless of what we do, I don’t think everyone is going to be happy. They did away with having to turn right at the (105 bypass) intersection and they are providing more places to U-turn without having to go through the major intersections,” he said.
Geouque said that trucks would still have to drive through the Blowing Rock Road intersection and up the hill on the 105 Extension to make their U-turns and through the 105 Bypass intersection heading south to U-turn to head north.
NCDOT board member Cullie Tarleton said that it is up to the town council and county commissioners as to what the next step will be.
“From the original design, both county commissioners and town council members had some serious issues with the design, both passed resolutions objecting to it. The DOT made some changes that I think were well-received. There were several questions that were addressed by the DOT engineers,” said Tarleton. “What the DOT is asking for now is a resolution either voting up or down. The DOT needs to know whether or not, with these changes, if this is something that is now acceptable and can be moved forward.”
Tarleton said that both bodies meet on Tuesday and that the DOT is hoping that a resolution can possibly be made then.
“If their answer is ‘no, we can’t accept this,’ then they have to understand that the funding doesn’t get held, it goes back in the general fund and this project goes back to the end of the line for future consideration. If it doesn’t get done now, who knows when it gets done,” said Tarleton. “I feel good about it, but we will just have to wait and see what the governing bodies say.”
Messages were left with Boone Town Manager John Ward and NCDOT Division 11 Project Team Lead Ramie Shaw seeking additional comments.
The PDF of the revised draft can be found below.
UPDATE: The Boone Town Council has added the Highway 105 Superstreet Project discussion to the agenda for Thursday, March 21 at 6 p.m. Watauga County Commissioners are expected to discuss the project at their meeting on Tuesday, March 19 at 5:30 p.m.