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Highland Lake Road condemnation could start in March

Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch and District Engineer Lonnie Watkins reported on road projects at a meeting of the Henderson County Transportation Advisory Committee meeting last week. Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch and District Engineer Lonnie Watkins reported on road projects at a meeting of the Henderson County Transportation Advisory Committee meeting last week.

Even if the wheels of the NCDOT grind exceedingly slow, thanks to cash shortfalls and drawnout negotiations over road project's scopes, several significant road projects are moving ahead in Henderson County.

Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch and NCDOT District Engineer Lonnie Watkins reported on construction projects that are under way and inthe pipeline during this month's meeting of the Transportation Advisory Committee.

Shortly after the TAC voted 8-1 to recommend that the state transportation agency move ahead with the Highland Lake Road expansion, over the strong objections of a 4-3 Village Council majority, the engineers updated the TAC on the status of major projects.

The French Broaod MPO on Thursday takes up the request from the Flat Rock Village Council to cancel the project on the grounds that the work “does not upgrade how the roadway functions, negatively impacts a scenic entrance into Flat Rock’s historic district, cuts down a significant number of mature trees, removes property from the Park at Flat Rock, and takes private property for a non-essential purpose.”

Since the Village Council adopted the resolution opposing the widening on Dec. 30, however, the Hendersonville City Council, the Henderson County Transportation Advisory Board and the Henderson County Board of Commissioners have all endorsed the continuation of the project.

The NCDOT has acquired 12 of the 17 parcels it needs for the work, Burch told the TAC last week.

"We’ve made offers on the other five," he said. "We’re negotiating for those. We're not confident we’ll be able to negotiate a settlement with all five. I guess we’ll see. My expectation right today if this project continues is that whatever parcels we’re not able to settle we would file the condemnation in March."

The NCDOT can start project with land set aside by condemnation even if the price has not yet been determined by a judge.

Here are other road project updates:

  • White Street widening, extension and roundabout. Right-of-way acquisition scheduled for June. Construction contract letting in October 2022.
  • Major renovation and upgrade of the Green River bridge on I-26. "Two bridges will become one bridge," Burch said. "They’re functionally obsolete, which means you don’t have adequate shoulder width. It’s a high value bridge. You don’t want to replace it so we’re trying to preserve it as long as we can." During construction, the bridge "will be one single lane in either direction," Burch said. Contract award is scheduled for June.
  • Howard Gap Road widening. 90% complete, scheduled to be finished next few months.
  • Greenville Highway roundabout at Erkwood-Shepherd. 75% complete. The roundabout is open. Landscaping, sidewalks and some other work remain.
  • N.C. 191 widening from N.C. 280 to Mountain Road. Right of way acquisition begins this month. Contract let date is June 2023.
  • Kanuga Road widening. Previously on hold because of NCDOT cash shortfall, the project is now funded. Contract let date is October 2022.
  • U.S. 64 roundabouts in Laurel Park. Right of way acquisition scheduled for May 2024.