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Five Points, interloop roads top city wish list

The city of Hendersonville ranked the North Main intersection at Five Points as its top priority for a road improvement. The city of Hendersonville ranked the North Main intersection at Five Points as its top priority for a road improvement.

With the two biggest roadway improvement priorities in a generation off the table for discussion, the Hendersonville City Council is targeting specific intersection improvements and numerous segments of an “interloop” connectors to speed traffic around town.

The Balfour Parkway, which started as a proposed bypass closer to the city center more 30 years ago, is now dead, having lost support from the Henderson County Board of Commissioners when hundreds of homeowners rallied to oppose it. The other major improvement to a highway serving the area, the I-26 widening from the Asheville Regional Airport to Four Seasons Boulevard, is funded and scheduled to start next year.
That left the council with a buffet of relatively small jobs when it nominated seven highway projects and two pedestrian/greenway extensions as part of the NCDOT’s next project-ranking effort.
Hendersonville, like all other cities and Henderson County, is sending its top seven projects to the county’s Transportation Advisory Committee. The TAC must narrow the county’s overall wish list to seven from the projects submitted by Henderson County, Hendersonville, Laurel Park, Fletcher and Flat Rock. The TAC’s request then goes to the French Broad MPO and the NCDOT’s division engineers for scoring and cost estimate. The planning process known as SPOT 6.0 (it stands for Strategic Prioritization Office of Transportation) won’t be completed locally until January 2021, when the MPO presents the road projects for a four-county area to NCDOT for final point assignment, and even then local projects compete with others from across Western North Carolina.
Last week, the Hendersonville City Council endorsed City Manager John Connet’s recommendations for prioritization, topped by the congested and time-wasting intersection of U.S. 25 and North Main Street.
“We believe that as much as 2.5 million in vehicle hours could be saved in a year with improvements to that intersection,” Connet said. The same Five Points intersection is a major concern as it relates to traffic flow serving Hendersonville High School once the renovation-new construction plan is complete in August 2023. (See story on Page 7)
The other six improvement projects in order were:
• Duncan Hill Road from Four Seasons Boulevard to North Main Street.
• Signal Hill Road from Four Seasons Boulevard to North Main Street.
• Blythe Street from Haywood Road to U.S. 64.
• Thompson Street-Signal Hill Road intersection.
• Clear Creek Road (North Main) from Asheville Highway to Howard Gap Road.
• Berkeley Road from North Main to Asheville Highway.
Top bike and pedestrian projects were extending the Oklawaha Greenway east from I-26 to U.S. 64 East along Allen Branch and adding sidewalks along U.S. 64 from Orrs Camp Road to Howard Gap Road.
The so-called interloop, using existing roads to more efficiently move traffic around and through the city, is a long way from becoming a reality. The overall plan Connet presented includes northern, eastern, southern and western connectors but only the first two made the city’s top 7 list: Clear Creek Road as the northern connector and Duncan Hill, Signal Hill and Berkeley roads as the eastern connector. On the drawing board (in the much more distant future) are a southern connector along Erkwood Drive, Highland Lake Road and Allen Road and a western connector along Blythe Street, White Pine (U.S. 64 to Hebron), Hebron Road (Fifth Avenue West to State Street) and State Street (Hebron Road to Kanuga Road).
Councilman Steve Caraker, the city’s representative on the TAC, said he’s seen many of the proposed improvements on city and county lists of needs since he first joined the City Council.
“A lot of these projects have been sitting around for 12 years,” he said. “What I’ll do with council approval is I’ll take this back to the TAC. We’ll throw them in the middle of the table and see what everybody says about it.”
The TAC is scheduled to choose the top 7 projects for the county on Aug. 21.
Members of the public can choose road improvements they support by visiting The survey is open until noon Wednesday, Aug. 14.