The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to hold an open house and public hearing for the proposed widening of U.S. 221 at the Ashe County High School on Tuesday, Dec. 4.
According to Jamille Robbins, the public involvement officer at the N.C. DOT, the open house portion of the meeting will begin at 4 p.m. and last until 6:30 p.m.
“This informal portion of the meeting will allow citizens one-on-one time with representatives for the Department (N.C. DOT),” said Robbins.
The formal presentation will begin at 7 p.m., and everything said at this time will be recorded. “The 7 p.m. session will be a time for the public to voice opinions and questions they might have,” said Robbins.
“It tough to say when the formal meeting will end; that depends on how many questions the public has,” said Robbins. He also said he didn’t think the formal meeting would last beyond 9 p.m.
According to Robbins, the N.C. DOT plans to begin its right-of-way acquisition in fall of 2013 and construction is scheduled to begin in 2015. Robbins said these dates are still tentative until more planning is completed.
Robbins said the N.C. DOT is going to create a “worse case scenario,” showing the highest number of people who may be affected by the right-of-way acquisition. Then, the N.C. DOT plans to refine that design so it has the least negative impact for people in the surrounding area.
Robbins said a four-lane road would increase the traffic capacity of U.S. 221, which should “this should help alleviate congestion and reduce the number of traffic accidents.”
Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell also said widening U.S. 221 addressed safety concerns.
“It (U.S. 221) is a relatively narrow road with unforgiving curves, and widening the road should make it safer,” said Mitchell.
According to Trent Beaver, from the N.C. DOT, the four-lane U.S. 221 will begin at the intersection with U.S. 421 at Deep Gap, and continue until the road crosses into Jefferson at the five-lane intersection of East Main Street and Cherry Drive.
Beaver also said the road will have a grass median dividing northbound and southbound. Plus, the width of the median will range from 23 feet wide to 36 feet wide. The width of the median depends on the available space for road construction.
“The project will be divided into five different segments to make the project more manageable,” said Beaver in September.
Beaver also said “we basically have enough right of way to begin the project right now (in September), but there are a few areas that we still need some planning for.”
For more information about the meeting, call Jamille Robbins, by phone at 919 707-6085, or by email at email@example.com.