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News Construction Progressing On Highway 28

 Commuters on their way to or from town are stopped on a regular basis to allow heavy equipment to get to the job site.Completion date for project set for November 2012

Trent Anderson, the construction supervisor with the NCDOT based in Andrews, is pleased with the progress of the work along Highway 28 North. He says that the work is moving along on schedule and the estimated completion date is set at Nov. 15, 2012.

According to Brian Burch, Division Construction Engineer, some complaints have been received from residents that live north of the project. The main residential concern has been that the road was being made into a four-lane, which Burch says is a “case of misinformation.”

As for the people that live right beside the construction, Burch said that “the right-of-way was purchased from each owner and there hasn’t been any opposition from them that I am aware of.”

Many residents that live directly on Highway 28 have been well aware of the increase in traffic over the years and understand the need for the project. Clayton Ramsey, who has lived beside 28 North for 57 years, said that when he first moved here, there was hardly any traffic.

“The traffic is here now,” Ramsey said. “They are just making it safer ... they took out four beautiful trees in my yard and a little over an acre of field land ... but there is no use getting upset over it. I can live with it.”

Constructions crews have been working on a concrete culvert at the intersection of Hwy 28 and Airport Road for months. On Wednesday, with the culvert finally in place, dirt was hauled in to cover it.Ramsey noted that the Bryson City Road was built 75 years ago and has not had much done to it except patchwork. He said that he believes that when the road is finished that it will actually be quieter.

Business owners have seen a change because of the construction, but even they realize that it will be beneficial in the end. David Herman, owner of the Cowee Convenience and Deli, commented that he understands the need to make the road safer for the amount of traffic on that road.

“I know why they are doing it so it doesn’t really bother me to sit and wait a few minutes, but I’m a pretty patient guy,” he said. “I know some people aren’t and they get upset over it, especially if they are in a hurry,” he said of the delays that road construction can cause.

As a business owner, Herman observed that the construction has its pros and cons. The work has decreased the amount of local customers that stop by his store because they are taking alternate routes to avoid the construction. However, he also added that a lot of the workers themselves are coming to his store for lunch and a snack.

As for the work itself, Anderson explained that the entire project would change some of the worst curves and hills along a two and a half mile stretch beginning at Iotla bridge.

When the project is finished, the road will still be two lanes, but will have alternate passing zones along the way. In addition to this, the road will be wider with a two feet shoulder. The shoulder will make the road safer for motorists and bikers alike. The crew will also be putting in two traffic lights, one at the intersection at Airport Road and one at the south end of Riverbend.

According to Anderson, the overall cost of the construction has been projected at $9.7 million. So far, $ 2 million has been spent on the construction contract, 85% of the funds are federal and 10% of the funds are from state.

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