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N.C. Transportation Board kills Balfour Parkway

 Members of the state Board of Transportation voted Thursday to delete the Balfour Parkway from the State Transportation Improvement Plan, officially killing the bypass Members of the state Board of Transportation voted Thursday to delete the Balfour Parkway from the State Transportation Improvement Plan, officially killing the bypass

RALEIGH — The Balfour Parkway is dead.

The North Carolina Board of Transportation made it official on Thursday morning with a vote that deletes the project from the State Transportation Improvement Plan. The parkway or some form of a bypass to divert traffic from Four Seasons Boulevard has been a priority for Henderson County since the mid 1990s or earlier.Now, the county has to start over if it wants to develop an alternative route.

The $157 million parkway would have been the first major new road for Hendersonville traffic in a generation. For the record, the parkway’s official death came at 9:40 a.m. with a unanimous vote of the Board of Transportation. With one vote, board members authorized modifications, additions and deletions of projects from across North Carolina’s 14 NCDOT divisions. There was no discussion. In all, the board killed six projects statewide valued at $361.8 million.
Jack Debman of Cullowhee, the state Transportation Board member from Division 14, voted no on the motion when the French Broad River MPO recommended in May that the state board kill the parkway project.
“I would have wanted it to move forward with the studies,” Debman, who was appointed four years ago by Gov. Pat McCrory, said Thursday. “We can stop it later. When we stop it right now, the next time we can be in the position we’re in is probably eight years from now. There will be lot of issues” between now and then.
A process that may have produced a less disruptive path was short-circuited, he said, before the final route was selected. Faced with overflow crowds protesting the parkway — and numerous proposed routes in three different segments — the Henderson County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to ask the MPO to remove the project. (Commissioner Bill Lapsley, who is also chair of the French Broad MPO, voted no.)
“We had five squiggly lines on a map and people went crazy,” Debman said. “Until you can narrow it down (and say), this is the most logical choice, then we can discuss. When you’re so no new into a project and the time frame it takes to put another project in place I just don’t think the public understands that part. We didn’t get that option and we’re back another eight to 10 years before we’re back with another option and it might not be as good as what we could have come up with this time. … I’m just glad I don’t live in Henderson County.”
In other action in the area, the Transportation Board OK’d a delay of right of way acquisition for the N.C. 191 widening project from N.C. 280 to Mountain Road by one year, to fiscal year 2019-20, to allow for more planning. The board accelerated right-of-way acquisition for a U.S. 64 median and controlled access project in Brevard, from FY 2021-22 to FY 2019-20.