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King and Church to be repaved by fall of 2021

The top NCDOT engineer for Henderson County told the Hendersonville City Council that the state had fixed some road problems city residents have brought up, was in the process of addressing others and would have to wait on some because of the agency's cash shortage.

Faded lane markings on Church and King streets downtown, poor pavement conditions on major routes throughout the city, a new stoplight on U.S. 64 West and better lane guidance through the U.S. 64 West zigzag at Buncombe Street were among the concerns City Council members heard during a series of Council Conversations with the public.

City Manager John Connet conveyed the concerns to NCDOT traffic engineer Steve Buchanan, who responded that solutions for several of the traffic concerns were already in the works. On Thursday night, DOT District engineer Lonnie Watkins reported to the council on the issues residents raised.

A contractor has finished the remarking of Church and King streets. In a good news, bad news answer, Watkins said that the DOT has awarded a contract for the repaving of Church and King streets. Bad news is that it's not expected to be done until the summer of 2021. The deadline to complete the work is October 2021. "It's not just this road," Watkins said. "He has multiple roads he will be responsible for resurfacing." The time frame is OK, Connet said, because the city wants to do underground drainage upgrades before the repaving.

Constituents also asked for a stoplight on U.S. 64 at either Whitted Street or Oak Street. One factor is the safety of Hendersonville middle and elementary school students trying to cross high-traffic U.S. 64. The NCDOT asked the city to supply traffic counts for Whitted and Oak, which are city streets. Adding those numbers to crash totals and the state's traffic counts for U.S. 64, engineers will determine whether a consulting report is warranted. If a traffic signal is recommended, the city would have to pay for part of it. When the council asked about a pot of money set aside for safety projects, Watkins said that DOT's cash shortage has frozen that source, too.

"Right now DOT has pretty severe budget constraints, as you might have heard," he said. "All of our spot safety, high impact-low cost projects — all of those are on hold as well."

Although constituents asked for a fourth pedestrian signal at the Greenville Highway-Spartanburg Highway intersection, the chance of that appears remote. The three existing pedestrian crossings allow for access to all four corners. The NCDOT doesn't have the money for a fourth and adding another would "significantly increase intersection delay." Help could be on the way in a couple of years.

"The White Street project is scheduled to let in October 2020," Watkins said. "Some of the concerns you have now will probably be addressed as part of that project."

Some city residents suggested bollards on Buncombe Street and U.S. 64 West to control traffic negotiating the westbound zig zag. The NCDOT already plans for clearer lane markings there.

"There's a plan for restriping to channel traffic," Watkins said. "Let us get this installed and evaluate it and see how well this is working before we do something more extensive like plastic bollards."