The N.C. Department of Transportation wants to improve safety on N.C. 143 west of Robbinsville from West Buffalo Creek to N.C. 143 Business. N.C. 143 is a windy, two-lane road through the mountains that serves as the primary east-west corridor for Graham County.
The 4.5-mile section of N.C. 143 targeted for improvements has a crash rate that exceeds the state’s average for rural two-lane roads as well as the “critical” crash rate. Over a three-year period, 59 crashes were reported along this section, more than half of which involved motorcycles. N.C. 143 connects to the Cherohala Skyway and is located near the Tail of the Dragon – two popular destinations for motorcyclists.
Proposed improvements include widening the pavement and shoulders, straightening curves, constructing turn lanes, resurfacing and installing guardrail. The rerouting of a portion of the existing highway near Buchanan Branch Road (S.R. 1125) is also being considered.
News and Updates
NCDOT will hold a public workshop on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012 from 6-8 p.m. at the Graham County Community Center in Robbinsville.
To request to be added to the project mailing list and receive project updates, Contact Us.
Alternatives Currently Under Study
Currently, NCDOT is conducting detailed field studies of the project area to identify potential impacts to human and natural environments. The studies are being performed for Alternatives 1, 2 and 4.
- Alternative 1 – Widen existing N.C. 143 with curve improvements from West Buffalo Creek to just north of N.C. 143 Business, including realignment of the N.C. 143 intersection with N.C. 143 Business at the east end of the project.
- Alternative 2 – Widen existing NC 143 with curve improvements from West Buffalo Creek to just north of Buchanan Branch Road (S.R. 1125), following the Alternative 1 alignment; construct a new roadway to east of S.R. 1118, with a new crossing of Snowbird Creek; and widen existing N.C. 143 with curve improvements to just north of N.C. 143 Business, including realignment of the N.C. 143 intersection with N.C. 143 Business.
- Alternative 4 - Widen existing N.C. 143 from West Buffalo Creek to N.C. 143 Business with no curve improvements and no realignment of the N.C. 143 intersection with N.C. 143 Business.
October 19, 2011: A news release was issued announcing that environmental studies had begun for Alternatives 1, 2 and 4 and that Alternative 3 had been removed from further consideration due to impacts to the Nantahala National Forest.
News Release, October 2011
Dec. 16, 2010:The project merger team, made up of representatives of local, state and federal governmental agencies and the Tribal Historic Preservation Office of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, met and reached agreement on several issues:
- Revised the project study area, since the project was shortened to begin at West Buffalo Creek rather than the Cherohala Skyway;
- Selected Alternatives 1, 2, and 4 to carry forward for detailed study;
- Decided not to carry Alternative 3 forward for detailed study due to severity of potential adverse impacts to the Nantahala National Forest; and
- Modified Alternative 2 slightly west of S.R. 1125 to more closely follow existing N.C. 143, thereby minimizing environmental impacts.
Merger Meeting Map/Project Study Area Limits and Preliminary Alternatives, December 2010
August 4, 2008: The project was presented for informational purposes during a regularly-scheduled meeting of the EBCI Tribal Council in Cherokee.
May 15, 2008: A meeting was held with local officials at the Graham County Public Library in Robbinsville, and a Citizens Informational Workshop was held at Robbinsville High School. Study corridors for four preliminary alternatives (Alternatives 1, 2, 3 and 4) were presented. Fourteen people attended the local officials meeting and 30 to 40 people attended the workshop. Two written comments and several verbal comments were received.
March 4, 2008: A meeting was held with residents of the Snowbird Community at the Snowbird Community Center near Robbinsville. Study corridors for four preliminary alternatives (Alternatives 1, 2, 3 and 4) were presented. Approximately 50 to 60 people attended the meeting, and 21 written comments and several verbal comments were received.
Jan. 23, 2007: The project merger team met and reached agreement on the project’s purpose – improving safety on N.C. 143 – and established the limits of the project study area.
Initial Project Study Area Limits, Dec. 2006
March 1993: Feasibility Study March 1993
Photos from the NC 143 Improvement Project
Project Development Engineer
- Email: Contact Us
- Phone: (919) 707-6045
- Address: 1548 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1548
Brian Burch, PE
Division 14 Construction Engineer
- Email: Contact Us
- Phone: (828) 586-2141
- Address: 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.