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Thinner Kanuga project still too wide for some homeowners

Kanuga Road resident Fred Collins (in vest) asks an NCDOT engineer about Kanuga Road widening project. Kanuga Road resident Fred Collins (in vest) asks an NCDOT engineer about Kanuga Road widening project.

Although the NCDOT has made a series of concessions to lessen the impact of the Kanuga Road widening project, the slimmed down version still drew opposition from many homeowners who turned out for the public unveiling on Tuesday.

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Graham MacPherson, owner of the 1905 Pinebrook Manor Inn, said he tried to talk to engineers about whether the state will rebuild a rock wall and entrance to its historical nature. The project would take the existing wall, he said. He's also worried that roundabouts farther up the road in Hendersonville won't work because traffic is imbalanced.

“They only work for balanced traffic counts," he said. "You end up with traffic lights on the roundabouts.”

“This is obviously going to become much faster and when they widen this they’re going to increase the volume of traffic," he said. "The trouble is, there are poor sightlines on Kanuga and people are doing 50, 60 mph now. The wider it goes, the faster the traffic goes. It will be a lot more dangerous.”

David Uchiyama, the NCDOT spokesman for Western North Carolina, said the agency has made major changes.

"We cut the right of way required by 50 percent,” he said. “It’s a major concession. Coming into this project we’ve addressed just about everything that we’ve been asked to address, the biggest concern being how much right of way is needed. We made compromises to make that happen."

Kanuga Road does not current meet standards for a two-lane road, and the crash rate is 74 percent higher than the state average for similar roads, the DOT says. The new preliminary design requires 25 feet of right of way instead of 50 feet from the centerline. The new plans — which are far from final — will still accommodate the current traffic of 11,000 vehicles per day and the anticipated 14,000 vehicles in 2040. 

Additional changes include:

  • Widening the existing travel lanes to 11-feet wide;
  • Adding two-foot paved shoulders along the entire project;
  • Building 14-foot shared lanes within city limits to accommodate bicycles;
  • Installing turn lanes at the intersection with Erkwood Drive/State Street, London Road and Crooked Creek Road;
  • Adding five-foot sidewalks with curb and gutter north of the Erkwood Drive/State Street intersection; and
  • Creating intermittent retaining walls and expressway gutters to reduce impacts. 

Homeowner Fred Collins said the project would take part of a lot he hoped to build on. His son has a 2-acre lot next to his house that he planned to use.

“I was going to build a house on it and subdivide it,” Collins said. “The way they’ve got it I wouldn’t be able to, I couldn’t meet the septic. If they want to acquire that land, it’s going to cost them because that’s where my retirement land was going to be.”