Free Daily Headlines


Set your text size: A A A

Roundabout detour extended again

The detour for the Greenville Highway roundabout construction, originally scheduled to end on Oct. 17, has been extended a second time.


The Graham County Land Company, the Robbinsville-based contractor for the project, “indicates that Greenville Highway will open by the end of November,” NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said Wednesday in response to the Hendersonville Lightning’s questions about the delay. “The road closure has been extended through a supplemental agreement to Nov. 7, and there is a considerable amount of overrun items which grant additional time.”
Construction on the large roundabout to fix the misaligned and hazardous Erkwood Drive and Shepherd Street intersection has closed Greenville Highway since July 17.
One cause of the delay that a new sewer line underground failed and has to be replaced, city officials said. The job requires extensive relocation of underground water and sewer lines and stormwater drainage.
“My understanding is there was an issue with the sewer line in the way it was installed and that has to be repaired or replaced,” City Manager John Connet said.
Commissioner Bill Lapsley, who chairs the French Broad MPO, the regional transportation planning agency, had not heard about the sewer line problem when the Lightning contacted him Thursday. He spoke with Division 14 engineer Brian Burch at an MPO meeting on Thursday afternoon and learned more about the cause.
“I said, ‘Are there issues.’ He said when they installed the sewer line, the contractor put it in properly but apparently the soil was so soft that the sewer line settled so they’re going to have to redo it and as i suspected they’re doing a change order,” Lapsley said. Burch told Lapsley the contractor was not at fault.
“He said, ‘our inspectors were there and when it was finished it was all fine.’ Once they put all the dirt back on top it and tested the line had a big sag in it.”
At a meeting of the Local Government Committee for Cooperative Action, Flat Rock Mayor Bob Staton said motorists won’t see a finished product when Greenville Highway reopens.
“Even though Greenville Highway will be reopen to through traffic, construction will continue there until sometime next June but at least won’t be a closure of Greenville Highway” except for short-term detours or delays, he said.
Flat Rock Wood Room owner Jamie Guay said his popular barbecue and Neapolitan pizza restaurant has survived the detour better than he feared it might.
“I was nervous about it,” he said. “All in all, I’m happy with it. It’s affected our numbers a little bit but I can say it’s pretty good.”
Loyal customers are still reaching the restaurant, after some difficulty.
“It has been a major inconvenience for a lot of customers, and the reason I know that is we’ve had some customers that have called here very frustrated,” he said. “We’ve had some customers almost screaming. But again, because of the quality of our restaurant they’ve found a way to get here.”
He said he wished the NCDOT would work harder on a more accurate forecast of when road will reopen.
“I don’t think in my whole life, 55 years, I’ve ever seen a construction site say, ‘Hey, listen, we’re going to have this project done by this date’ and even be remotely close. That’s frustrating.”
If he’s experiencing a dip in business, he suspects it’s in spontaneous traffic.
“Skytop Orchards, for example,” he said. “That’s a significant part of our business and I think we lost probably 10 percent there because the people that go to Skytop go up there, they want to take a direct route here, find out there’s a detour and they just give up. (Without the detour) “it’s almost an impulse at that point. ‘Hey look, look at all the cars over there and they serve barbecue and pizza.’ I think we lost some of the impulse shoppers and restaurant patrons.”
On the bright side, Guay predicts that the roundabout when it’s finished will be an attraction itself.
“When they open that up, I think we’re going to just get hit hard,” he said. “I think it’s going to be worth it in the long run. I’m really excited. I think we are going to get pounded. People are curious animals — ‘Let’s go check out our roundabout.’”
Told that the new projection for reopening Greenville Highway is the end of November, Guay recommended a new forecasting strategy.
“Why not just say it’s not going to be done till December, then when it’s done in November you guys look good,” he said.