My friend, Norma Ivey, and I are riding along when she suddenly sings out this little rhyme, “Goodbye trees, you gotta go... Macon County’s gotta grow... Roads go here, roads go there...Seems like there’s asphalt everywhere!” We’re on Route 28, driving toward Cowee.
Yes, big machines are ripping trees out of the earth and tossing them into piles. Properties have been bought out and gaping holes and ditches appear where wildflowers used to grace the roadside.
Huge metal poles loom a few feet from the old standbys. They reach so high one wonders why DOT and Duke didn’t think to put wind turbines on the top to harness the breezes to save energy and taxpayer dollars.
And, yes, it is our money paying for this ridiculous transformation. Why? No one seems to know. One call to DOT gave me the answer that they wanted to eliminate the dangerous hills out there. With wider roads? “Is this with stimulus money,” I asked? No, it’s North Carolina gas tax funds paying for the improvement was the response. We citizens here in N.C. pay one of the highest gas tax rates in the nation, 32.5 cents per gallon goes to DOT to dream up projects, some needed, others questionable as the massive construction on Route 28.
This road to nowhere needs investigation. Where are members of the county-appointed transportation and land-use/environment committees who are suppose to help create a long-range comprehensive plan? Are they speaking up for a local land ethic or simply mulling over some agency’s plats? Obviously, we have reached peak oil in this country, and alternative transportation measures and energy efficiency should be on everyone’s mind and certainly publicly addressed by our leaders. Additionally, have you noticed the scenery out there on our rural landscape is changing? Daily. If you like what you see, fine. If not, please speak up.
We have formed a local chapter of the worldwide transition towns initiative to help build local resilience in our community in face of oil, water, energy shortages now and in the future. Growing out of the permaculture movement, you may google “transition towns” or “transitiontsautee.org” to learn more. We meet each Monday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall on Sierra Drive and invite interested citizens to come and bring some of your good ideas.
When they finish Route 28, DOT will undoubtedly move on to Needmore. Some of us proposed leaving Needmore graveled with speed bumps to lower traffic flow and speed. The point is to divert unnecessary heavy commercial traffic off that road (not invite more) and onto 28 which is actually shorter and can accommodate thruway traffic because it is already paved. At Needmore when DOT moves in the machinery, watch out! Unless strictly monitored, even with “pave in place,” the earth will move, the trees will go, the place will turn out neat and manicured. And the role nature plays in nourishing the human spirit will diminish as in so many other places around town. We are the big losers. So goodbye trees, pave here and there ... till we see asphalt everywhere.
Debby Boots — Franklin, N.C.