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Opinion Letters Proposed DOT projects don’t belong in CTP

I would like to encourage people to pay attention to the Comprehensive Transportation Plan that is being developed for Macon County and to send letters of comment. A local committee has been working on the plan for some time, the plan is nearing completion, and your comments will count! You can see the draft plan at http://www.regiona.org/Macon_CTP.htm.

For myself, I would like to express my support for community involvement in transportation planning and my appreciation to the committee for their hard work. The supposed changes in DOT policy to be more receptive and responsive to community input is a welcome and much needed change and the CTP process can be a very valuable step toward community based decision making.

What is of great concern to me that everyone should be aware of is the list of 22 additional projects that DOT submitted to the committee, after the committee had already developed their own set of priorities. These projects do not have capacity issues but are proposed for “minor widening” and would be brought up to DOT standards. I would like to strongly express the opinion that bringing rural mountain roads “up to DOT standard” usually far exceeds what one would think of as minor widening. DOT standards have often proved inappropriate and damaging to the mountain terrain. In addition, the strong impact that roads have on communities must be recognized. Rural character and community can be profoundly changed by bigger, faster roads.

In particular, I would like to express my strongest opposition to the proposed “upgrades” to NC 28 N. The community in north Macon has worked hard to achieve scenic road status for NC 28. We have a historical district at West Mill that would be very negatively impacted by a big, DOT standard road. In the Mountain Landscapes Initiative project in Cowee, we stated our desire to protect NC 28 “from future insensitive engineering and widening projects.” These considerations also apply to Snowhill Road, another road on the DOT list. There is already strong opposition to planned standardization of Needmore Road and to the replacement of the historic McCoy Bridge, and we do not want another unwelcome big DOT project. We here in the north of the county will continue to put forth the strongest efforts to preserve our community and environment.

Point number five, of only seven points, in the Comprehensive Transportation Plan committee’s Visions and Objectives is: Ensure NC28 North and other rural corridors maintain and enhance their rural characters. So how can DOT insert a project that is specifically opposed by the vision statement?

I do not think this list of DOT proposed projects should be included in the CTP in any form. Citizens need to study the list and see what roads that you care about are included. If there’s something you oppose or something you favor, let that be known. Individual projects could be added to the committee’s recommendations if they feel the projects are appropriate and they have received support from communities that want the projects. If this list is included in the CTP in any form, I fear that in the future it could be used to justify advancing projects that have not been prioritized or approved by the community.

Please study the plan and send your comments to:

Daniel Cooper Sellers, EIT, Transportation Planning Branch, NCDOT, 1554 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699 or www.dcsellers1ncdot.gov and Ryan Sherby, Southwestern Commission, 125 Bonnie Lane, Sylva, NC 28779 or @regiona.org

While some people associated with DOT are certainly well intentioned, well informed, and supportive, others seem to really not understand or care about the perceptions of rural communities or the effects of their projects on us. We are not sitting out here waiting for the blessings of the big city—we want to preserve our rural heritage, lifestyles, environment, and natural beauty.

Susan Ervin — Franklin, N.C.


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