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Hearing today on Erkwood roundabout

The NCDOT has proposed a roundabout on Greenville Highway at Erkwood. [NCDOT GRAPHIC MODIFIED BY KELLY FAIN/HENDERSONVILLE LIGHTNING] The NCDOT has proposed a roundabout on Greenville Highway at Erkwood. [NCDOT GRAPHIC MODIFIED BY KELLY FAIN/HENDERSONVILLE LIGHTNING]

State transportation engineers have proposed either a roundabout or stoplight to fix the hazardous Shepherd Street and Erkwood Drive area of Greenville Highway.

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The intersections 175 feet apart can be dangerous for motorists trying to turn onto Greenville Highway.
"This offset of two intersections obstructs traffic and creates a safety hazard," the DOT says. Both proposals realign Shepherd Street with Erkwood.
The NCDOT will hold a public drop-in meeting on the plans from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, at Flat Rock Village Hall. Although there will be no formal presentation, NCDOT engineers and planners will be available to answer questions and take comments about the project. People may also submit comments and questions in writing. The comments will be taken into consideration as the project develops, the DOT says.
The state agency may hear from the owners of property that is historic.
At Shepherd Street, the project could potentially affect the Towles cottages on the northeast corner and the old McCall's grocery and Sherman grocery buildings directly across from Shepherd.
"What upsets me is why would they build a road and spend all this money and destroy all this property when you could go straight across the road," said Janice Sherman. She and her husband, Bob, own the property on the west side of Greenville Highway from the Flat Rock Centre to Sherman's Business Park.
ErkwoodShepherdTrafficBuilt in 1945, the two-story brick building now known as the Flat Rock Centre was the second home of Sherman's grocery, an old-fashioned wood-floor country store operated by Bob Sherman's father, Dewey.
"The Sandburgs shopped there and brought their goats," Janice Sherman said. "My husband said whenever they came in they always had two goats in the car."
Dewey Sherman first moved into the smaller cottage on the same property when he relocated from Seventh Avenue. His customers followed, and soon he outgrew that small space. He then built the larger brick building.
Janice Sherman's suggestion that DOT engineers go straight across Greenville Highway to meet a realigned Shepherd Street is one of the two DOT options. That path, too, could potentially affect another historic property. Across the highway and perhaps 200 yards southeast across a creek and through the woods sits the historic Hiram King Jones cabin. Built in 1853, the cabin has been moved from Big Hungry to Spartanburg Highway (where it housed a mountain graft shop) and finally to the site off Greenville Highway. It's now owned by Betty Jean Billingsley Carswell and used for family gatherings and picnics, the local history writer Terry Ruscin reports in his "Hidden History of Henderson County."
None of the historic properties is on the National Register of Historic Places but state transportation planners still must account for the properties' existence and decide whether they ought to be saved. Colista Freeman, an engineer with Mulkey Engineers & Consultants in Raleigh, said road designers must consider historic, archaeological and environmental impacts.
The state report identifies the Towles cottages and the James and Ginsle Collins house as historic properties that could be affected but not the Hiram King Jones cabin, which may be safely beyond the new roadway. "We've coordinated with the State Preservation Office to make sure we're following the regulations on that," Freeman said. "They're right at the edge at this point. It's a little too early for the historic people to make a call. We definitely have to take that into consideration."
Neither Freeman or Cannon said they had a figure on the right-of-way cost or how many properties would be affected by the proposed project. The newly adopted state Transportation Improvement Plan schedules the project for 2016 at a cost of $2.1 million. The intersection has a higher than average number of accidents compared with similar roadways, Freeman said, most involving left turn movements.
"We'll have better information at the workshop," Freeman said. "At this point they're all subject to change. They haven't gotten the final design."

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The NCDOT will hold a public drop-in information session on the plans from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29, at Flat Rock Village Hall.