SYLVA – A major milestone has been reached in the planning phase of a project to improve Corridor K in Graham County.
NCDOT and Federal Highway Administration officials recently signed documentation that determines that proposed improvements to U.S. 129, N.C. 143 and N.C. 28 between Robbinsville and Stecoah will have no significant impact on the human or natural environment.
The signing of the Finding Of No Significant Impact, or FONSI, document completes the environmental review process for project. Engineers will soon begin detailed design of the project, and right-of-way acquisition will likely begin later this year with construction scheduled to start in the fall of 2022.
“This historic milestone is the result of the numerous coordination efforts of the team, with not only NCDOT’s normal local and agency partners, but efforts to understand the concerns of environmental advocacy groups, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Tribal partners and MANY others,” Division 14 Engineer Wanda Austin said. “This collaborative effort has laid the groundwork for many other future projects.”
The FONSI document
is based on the environmental assessment as well as other documentation from public, environmental resource agencies, and environmental advocacy groups. Additional documents are available on the Corridor K website.
NCDOT worked with a variety of agencies and local governments to reach this step in the process. Others involved in the process included representatives from Graham County, Appalachian Regional Commission, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency, N.C. Division of Water Resources and the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.
This project will improve mobility and reliability between U.S. 129 in Robbinsville and the existing four-lane section of N.C. 28 at Stecoah. The typical roadway section includes one lane in each direction plus alternating climbing and passing lases with an eight-foot shoulder. It also makes conditions safer for pedestrians in Robbinsville, as well as hikers along the Appalachian Trail. The project also includes a land-bridge so for animals can safely cross the busy highway.
Corridor K extends from I-75 in Cleveland, Tenn., to Dillsboro in Jackson County. It is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, which Congress established in 1965. It is the last of the ADHS corridors to be completed.