NCDOT proposes to construct the 5-mile N.C. 107 Connector from N.C. 107 to US 23-74 east of Sylva in Jackson County. The N.C. 107 Connector is included in NCDOT’s Draft 2013-2023 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as Project R-4745.
News and Updates
For years, NCDOT has been studying scenarios for improving traffic flow on N.C. 107 through Sylva. In June 2013, the NCDOT decided to focus its efforts on improving existing N.C. 107 from N.C. 116 (Webster Road) to U.S. 23 Business (Asheville Highway) in Sylva. This project is known in the 2013-2023 Draft State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) as project R-5600 and it is an unfunded project. Studies for the N.C. 107 Connector project (STIP No. R-4745) originated in 2003 as part of a feasibility study for a Southern Loop around Sylva and Dillsboro to relieve traffic congestion on N.C. 107 and U.S. 23 Business. In 2008, the project limits were redefined, and NCDOT renamed the project as the N.C. 107 Connector. Between 2008 and 2011, traffic and design studies were performed to identify ways to address the transportation needs along N.C. 107. These studies showed that a new connector would help reduce traffic congestion on N.C. 107, but would not completely relieve the transportation needs in the corridor.
In 2012, local transportation leaders commissioned an N.C. 107 Corridor study that recommended N.C.107 be improved to serve local traffic, which coincides with project R-5600. Currently studies and mapping for making improvements to the existing N.C. 107 corridor are being conducted. Due to the way project funding is established, and because both projects (project R-5600 and project R-4745) have overlapping project areas, these studies are being funded under a single project – the R-4745 project.
Why is this action is needed?
N.C. 107 is the major north/south transportation corridor in Jackson County and several municipalities. It is part of a 70-mile Strategic Highway Corridor between Anderson, SC and Knoxville, Tenn. and is an important route for regional mobility. There are no major parallel routes within four miles of N.C. 107 that could serve as an alternative for through traffic. During current peak hours, portions of N.C. 107 between U.S. 23 Business and N.C. 116 in the Sylva area have reached their capacity.
N.C. 107 is a link in NCDOT’s 2004 Strategic Highway Corridors Vision Plan. The vision plan proposes a network of high-speed, safe, reliable highways throughout the state. These corridors are important for mobility, connectivity to activity centers and interstates, interstate relief, evacuation, and the national or statewide highway system.
Work on the N.C. 107 Connector (R-4745) has been suspended. After evaluating how well the N.C. 107 improvements (R-5600) will address congestion and improve mobility, the department will decide whether there is a need for further study of the N.C. 107 Connector.
1980s: Transportation-related issues along N.C. 107 are first recognized. At the time, crash rates were among the highest in the state.
1990s: NCDOT reconfigures N.C. 107 from a four lanes to five lanes. Traffic conditions continue to worsen as a result of increased residential and commercial development. Local officials ask NCDOT to study ways to fix N.C. 107.
1994: The “Southern Loop,” a new road from U.S. 23-441 south of Dillsboro to U.S. 23-74 east of Sylva, is added to the Sylva/ Dillsboro Thoroughfare Plan
2003: Local officials ask NCDOT to prepare Feasibility Study FS-0114C. The feasibility study recommends a multi-lane road on new alignment connecting U.S. 23-441 south of Dillsboro to U.S. 23-74 east of Sylva. The Southern Loop is added to NCDOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program as R-4745.
2008: NCDOT removes the western half of the Southern Loop (U.S. 23-441 to NC 107) from the STIP and renames the project the N.C. 107 Connector. NCDOT holds a Citizens Informational Workshop at Western Carolina University on December 4, 2008. About 130 people attend the workshop. Participants voice their opinions about congestion on N.C. 107, upgrades needed on existing roads, the need for a new route, and potential negative effects of a new route on businesses, the community, and the environment.
2009: Project team members receive comments during a public workshop for the Jackson County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) on October 13, 2009.
2010: The Jackson County Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP) recommends projects to improve traffic conditions along N.C. 107 and U.S. 23 Business, including the N.C. 107 Connector. Project team members receive comments during a public workshop for Feasibility Study FS-0814A on November 9, 2010. The feasibility study concludes substantial upgrades are needed to improve N.C. 107 traffic flow.
2011: In its Priority Needs List, the Southwestern Rural Planning Organization ranks the N.C. 107 Connector as 28th out of 45 projects within the region and 7th out of 15 projects within Jackson County. The Federal Highway Administration issues a revised Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the N.C. 107 Connector.
2012: The N.C. 107 Connector receives high scores in NCDOT’s P2.0 as a statewide project for improving mobility. A new project, R-5600, is included in the Draft 2013-2023 STIP to upgrade existing N.C. 107 from N.C. 116 to U.S. 23 Business. The right-of-way schedule date is FY 2021 for R-5600 and R-4745. Construction is currently unfunded for both projects and is expected to occur after 2023.
2013: In response to a community-based N.C. 107 Corridor Study completed in December 2012 and supporting resolutions from the Town of Sylva and Jackson County, NCDOT began studying how to improve existing N.C. 107 in a way that minimizes impacts to surrounding businesses and better fits the context and vision of the local area. NCDOT has determined that it will be feasible to design the project with a reduced footprint while still improving the flow of traffic along N.C. 107.
NCDOT engineers and consultants are currently examining how implementing improvements to N.C. 107 would impact the area while being constructed. This will include an assessment of how to reduce the amount of lane shifts and lane closures, and manage access to businesses in the corridor and expedite construction.
The N.C. 107 Corridor Study developed by the Southwestern RPO can be viewed at this location:
Zahid Baloch, P.E.
Email: Contact Us
Project Planning Engineer
Phone: (919) 707-6012
1548 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1548
E.A. (Ed) Green, P.E.
Email: Contact Us
Division 14 Engineer
253 Webster Road
Sylva, NC 28779
Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.