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Ask Matt ... about median beautification

Q. Will NCDOT ever finish filling in the median on U.S. 64 East next to Walmart? And will they plant grass, shrubs or trees?

The Chimney Rock Road median is close to being completed, but for many, not soon enough. DOT officials said that they need to raise an 18-inch box culvert for storm drainage and they still need to add more fill and spread it. But there is no money in the budget to finish the job this year and there is no guarantee there will be next year. Here’s the deal — it’s not really a project. Huh? That’s right; what you have observed for the past several years is that a scrubby canyon between two sections of highway — a magnet for tail pipes, hubcaps and soda cans – is by definition a landfill. And not just an ordinary dirt pit. It has been environmentally approved to take only certain types of fill dirt, much of which was hauled in from road banks that have sloughed off during heavy rains. In short, it’s an ongoing operation and DOT is not in a position to spend our hard earned tax dollars to buy fill dirt from somebody just to put it in a “landfill,” if that makes any sense.

The triangular-shaped six-acre median lies between Sugarloaf Road and Highland Square Drive, next to the shopping center’s dual left-turn lanes. There are large rocks on the ground which prevent bush-hogging and weeds are beginning to grow again. There is a sewer manhole in the center but it rises well above ground level. Our state highway friends are aware that just up the road a lot of earth is being moved for the widening of I-26 but it is unlikely any of that cut-and-fill operation will generate excess dirt for Chimney Rock Road.

I give credit to NCDOT for the work they have done so far. Sure, it would be good if the median can be topped-off and grass planted although it might never look as nice as what is just across the street. That patch of green is also on state right-of-way but nicely maintained by Triangle Stop.

The City’s Tree Board reported that they once helped plant trees in the median but they were lost years ago to the turn lanes. The Tree Board is willing to do what it can to replant trees but my contacts at NCDOT indicate that no landscaping enhancements are planned. Some 37,000 vehicles per day use this section of Chimney Rock Road. Since it lies well within the city limits I suspect one day you could see a handsome “Welcome to Hendersonville” sign. We just don’t know when.


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