LETTERS / Considerations on the Plans for the Hwy. 105 Improvements in Boone

Published Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Dear Editor,

Thank you all and thank DOT for taking full consideration of local suggestions and input. We welcome DOTs visioning for the improvement of Hwy 105. We note that Locals drive these roads every day and have a good feel of Boone traffic flow.   

The State and DOT absolutely does a good job. We acknowledge that a good deal of time and energy has gone into the planning done by DOT and the County and the Town for the planned improvements of Hwy 105. In my work I travel to Asheville, Morganton, Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, Linville, Mountain City, Blowing Rock and Jefferson. The roads have gotten and are getting better. Thank you DOT!

We seek to provide input to the professionals involved. 1)  As a local and long term user of Poplar Grove South and Hwy 105.  2) As a professional that works and drives regularly the fantastic Hwy 421 to Wilkes; the 321 “on the ground” Super Street concept in Blowing Rock, and Hwy 105, (in much need of improvement)

HISTORY AND MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPING : We believe that a long term DOT/ Town/County/ASU acknowledgement of the agricultural and RR history of our area would be something all Boone can be proud of and out tourism economy will benefit. We hope to preserve some of our local color and history with a Hwy 105 “pocket park”, historical marker, bus stop, boulder wall and parking at the silo and barn and the use of the Christmas trees, purchased from the Henson Tree Farm, used a landscaping planting at the “pocket park” and all along the improved Hwy 105 and Poplar Grove Rd. South improvements. Plant Frazier  firs from Henson Tree Farm ( and other Tree Farms). Also plant native flowing plants such a dogwood, service berry, Rodo, mountain Azalea and Mountain Laurel. If we can make History more evident it would add to the sidewalks, bike trails, cross walks a safer and more walk able and bike able Boone can be planned for.   

Wow, to drive into Boone City Limits and see a historical marker, a “pocket park”, silo, barn chirstmas trees, rock wall for privacy screen, parking, bus stop with rusted metal roof on silo and bus stop AND student and park user parking for when it snows and The cottages and are not accessible…. DOT landscape architects an work magic ideas noted above.

I will  list many of the considerations here:

Choice: 1) Alignment of Poplar Grove South with the By Pass OR 2) Alignment Poplar Grove South with Poplar Grove Rd. North AND MUCH MORE RELATED TO THE “COMMUNITY CHARACTER” OF OUR SIMPLE MOUNTAIN TOWN.                     

 1)      It is our observation that 60-80% of the traffic from Poplar Grove Rd. South entering Hwy 105 –  goes left from Poplar Grove South – ( to Asheville, Linville, Beech, Banner Elk, Foscoe and Sugar Grove and 321/421 to TN and back to Boone on business 321/421.) I will summarize this in the future by saying “points south and west” . (An outsider might not see this. Note: The bypass intersection at Hwy 321/421 could also be improved by adding turning lanes right.)

2)      If traffic is routed to Poplar Grove North alignment, as considered, the left from Poplar Grove Rd. South to bypass  traffic “points south and west” are necessarily taken through an additional Hwy 105 light to reach the south and west destination they are going for.

3)   Often much of the traffic going right generally come from The Cottages and the right turns are variable based upon ASU being in session, the time of day and time of the week  or week end, ball games and other University schedules.  (It seems a better traffic flow will be aligning Poplar Grove South with the By Pass.)

4)      If Traffic from Poplar Grove Rd, South is taken to the bypass light, traffic can go left, straight or right, and no back tracking through an additional light by the majority of traffic is required.

5)   If the traffic from Poplar Grove Rd. South is taken to the bypass light alignment there will be considerable earth moving and reshaping of Poplar Grove South for some distance off of Hwy 105.

6)   If the traffic from Poplar Grove Rd. South is taken to the Poplar Grove North alignment two major commercial properties will need to be acquired at tremendous costs to the state/DOT.

7)   We speculate that the excessive cost of these commercial tracts could be more than the grading and reshaping of Poplar Grove Rd. South aligning with the bypass light?  Indeed, there is a good amount of grade and earth moving that will need to take place to make the Poplar Grove Road South Align with the bypass, to me – as  locals, this makes more sense to us.  

8)      We all are asked to make decisions that are based upon “what makes sense”. To us and to many other locals taking Poplar Grove Rd  South through the existing light at the Bypass for 1) improved traffic flow south and west and 2) long term savings afforded the possible future Danial Boone Parkway  makes better sense considering Poplar Grove Rd. South is the back way to the BRP, Moses Cone, Julian Price, GF, Blowing Rock, and a large neighborhood of Russ Cornette/Poplar Grove/Shull’s Mill area as well as the back way from Hound Ears to Boone. Aligning the bypass to Poplar Grove Road South seems the best option for long term function.  

9)      We do advocate for the show casing Boone and Watauga County History – The Henson barn and the silo as a “pocket park” to illustrate the long term agricultural history of Boone And to illustrate with an historical marker some of the history of the tweetsie RR and its track onto the Shulls Mill and to Elizabethan and Johnson City. We need to maintain as much “community character and history” as we can for the betterment of our tourism industry

It will be attractive to enter Boone from the bypass and from Linville and have Watauga County and Boone history standing there as a barn, silo and historical marker, Christmas trees. boulders, bus stop, parking – or whatever DOT landscape architects and the TOB agree upon! Wow!

Something that we all can be proud of, thanks to the history of the Henson and Brown Family farming at that intersection many years ago and Tweetsie RR being a track to Linville and on to Tennessee.  

A “pocket park” could also allow for a lower level bus stop with a rusted tin roof. A rusted tin roof could be put on the silo also – to illustrate the rustic history of our area AND to allow parking in the event of a snow event, for students at The Cottages.

   Imagine: an attractive agricultural feature when entering Boone And a Historical Marker commemorating some of Boone’s history and sidewalks and cross walks.

10)    Recently talking with a friend from Blowing Rock they noted “Hwy 105 and Hwy 321 are not the same –  Boone traffic and the Blowing Rock traffic are not the same”. They pointed out that Hwy 105 has far more “regular traffic” because of the size of Boone is large than Blowing Rock. They questioned the effectiveness of the super street concept on Hwy 105 due to the amount of regular traffic and said that Hwy 105 could probably utilize the turning lanes rather that the islands and turn a rounds.

11)  As we move into the future, historical markers, pocket parks, greenways, cross walks, sidewalks,  architectural history (barns and silos and old farm houses) will enhance the appeal of Boone to the traveling local and regional traffic that passes through our town(s) (Blowing Rock, Linville and many more).  

12)  We recommend that directional signs be brown rather than green. This will help visitors to our mountain community  that the character of the roads access the “back roads” that  are The Mountains! We are not suburban, we are rural.

SIDE NOTES:

 We do not see enough of history protected. When you go into down town Wilkesboro there is a 20’ -30’ tall arrow. The one in Wilkesboro commemorates the Danial Boone Trail/The Wilderness Road.

It would be great if Boone could have a similar monument as the Wilderness Road monument in Wilkesboro so that ALL SEE and know the great history we share.

General Notes based upon my experience:

1)      Turning lanes work

2)      Bus Pull outs work are important

3)      Covered bus waiting stops with cedar shakes or rusted tin roofs and rodo landscaping to support “local color” and for increased use of bus stops in town by students and the public as a whole.

                                                  THINK INTO THE FUTURE.

We see and believe deeply in the history of Boone as a driving force for local future generations and our tourism based economy. Yea history, Yea historical markers/commemorating Wilderness Road and Tweetsie RR, Boone Post Office (CCC) and so much more.  

As we move into the future, historical markers, pocket parks, greenways, cross walks, sidewalks, bike trails, bus shelters, architectural history (barns and silos and old farm houses, post office) will enhance the appeal of Boone to the traveling local and regional traffic that passes through our town(s) (Blowing Rock, Linville, Linville, Banner Elk, Newland, Sugar Grove and many more small mountain towns and communities).  

Concerned Watauga County residents of the Poplar Grove Rd., South Neighborhood – 

Mark Kirkpatrick

 

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