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Homeowners form 191 Alliance to block widening

Homeowners organizing to stop the N.C. 191 widening heard on Saturday from Bill Erickson, who led the effort to stop the Balfour Parkway. Homeowners organizing to stop the N.C. 191 widening heard on Saturday from Bill Erickson, who led the effort to stop the Balfour Parkway.

Residents along N.C. 191 have stepped up their opposition to a project that would transform the road into four-lane divided highway, organizing an alliance of neighborhoods and calling for a second look at the need now that the Balfour Parkway is dead.


Six residents asked the Henderson County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to support their appeal to the NCDOT to re-evaluate the widening project, which the NCDOT says is needed to accommodate traffic up to the year 2040.

The Mills River Town Council has tentatively accepted a five-lane widening of the road with center turn lane from N.C. 280 to Schoolhouse Road. The NCDOT plan includes a four-lane highway with a 17½-foot median from Mills River to Mountain Road.
Residents say that because the state, at the request of the Board of Commissioners, has killed the Balfour Parkway, the 4.4-mile widening project is no longer needed.

Residents asked the commissioners on Wednesday to request that the NCDOT re-evaluate the project in light of the Balfour elimination and because the state is currently completing a safety and traffic improvement project in the Rugby Middle School and West Henderson High School area.
“We believe that the N.C. 191 project is no longer needed, that the project will permanently devalue the rural living in our county and that the widening does not support or provide for any economic well-being,” said Phil Rasmussen, of Haywood Park Estates
.
“We are trying to get a re-evaluation of the Highway 191 project that is threatening to acquire property from our residents out of our common area,” said John DeGelleke, secretary of the Triple Creek Homeowners Association. “With the elimination of the Balfour, this property does not need to be acquired by the state.”
Howard Balken said that from the entrance of Triple Creek “I can see all the way to Rugby Road and all the way to Mountain Road and many times there’s no traffic at all and even at the busiest time there’s never more than three or four cars.”
“We do not want to stop progress but in our opinion the plan to transform 191 into a 4-lane median divided highway is not justified,” said Judy Levinson, another homeowner in the N.C. 191 area between Hendersonville and Mills River. “Certainly it was not justified before and now that the Balfour is not on the table it’s not justified now.”

Project opponents who formed the 191 Alliance held an organizational meeting Friday at the Henderson County public library that attracted 60 homeowners.
“The mission of the group is to seek answers from various state, regional and local governmental entities about how best to alleviate traffic congestion occurring at Rugby Middle School and West Hendersonville High School during school start and finish times,” the Alliance said in a news release. “Research done independently and more recently now that the Balfour Parkway has been cancelled, questions whether an expansion and expense of this size and nature are warranted.”