Asheville - A highway project increasing access to the Mars Hill area has taken a step forward.
An extension of Crossroads Parkway has been approved by the N.C. Board of Transportation as part of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) local access road program.
The Crossroads Parkway extension proposal involves creating a nearly half-mile frontage road that will connect access to Interstate 26 exits 9 and 11, east of the interstate in Madison County. It is expected to attract new businesses to the area, and to improve access to the interstate for existing companies.
It is the type of highway project that makes up a key part of Gov. Pat McCrory's 25-Year Transportation Vision. Its goal is to better connect North Carolinians to jobs, education, healthcare and recreation opportunities.
Several additional steps are needed in the process, with the preparation of environmental documents this fall. The designing of preliminary plans could take place in 2017, followed by right of way acquisition the following year, and construction in 2019.
NCDOT will develop the plans for the project, handle right of way and administer the contract. It will also oversee the work to ensure that federal-aid highway procedures are followed for the project, which is expected to cost about $1.8 million.
The ARC is a regional economic development agency comprised of the governors of 13 Appalachian states, including Governor McCrory, and a federal government representative. Its purpose is to boost the area economy through investment in transportation, infrastructure, education, health and cultural initiatives and projects.