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Corridor K Frequently Asked Questions

The Corridor K project team received 144 comment sheets, emails and online forms and two petitions during the 30-day comment period following public meetings in Robbinsville and Andrews in February 2019. 

In total, 494 subject-specific comments were contained in the feedback provided by the public. Since the public meetings, the project team has reviewed all comments and met with local officials, transportation agency leadership, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and N.C. Department of Environmental Quality staff to discuss next steps in consideration of public feedback. 

These frequently asked questions were developed to serve as responses to public comments.  Comments generally fell within a range of subjects (for example, stating support or opposition to a specific scenario, concerns about impacts, etc.)  As such, these FAQs address comments by subject and start with the subjects that received the most feedback.

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  • What is the status of scenarios T-1 and T-4?
    ​The public comments contained concerns related to residential relocations and environmental impacts, including habitat fragmentation and impacts to water resources. Given the large amount of public opposition to T-1 and support for improving existing roadways between Robbinsville and Andrews, it was determined that scenarios T-1 and T4 would not be studied further as part of this project.
  • What scenarios will be evaluated moving forward?
    The project team is currently evaluating a potential new scenario in the Stecoah area that was suggested during the public comment period. The team is also evaluating improving the existing roadway and the scenarios R-1, S-2, and S-6 in the Robbinsville to Stecoah area that were presented during the public outreach.

    The team may modify these corridors depending on the result of the on-going environmental and engineering evaluations. Modifications would be influenced by things such as impacts to the human and natural environment and addressing the project’s transportation needs and purpose.
  • What is being done to minimize property impacts?
    A large number of comments expressed concern over property impacts associated with T-1 with others expressing concern over S-2, S-6 or general concerns about impacts to businesses and homes. T-1 will not be studied further as part of this project. ​

    With regard to the remaining scenarios, these options will be developed during the detailed study process to avoid and minimize impacts to existing development.  The study corridors are wider than what would be the actual footprint of the roadway. They are set that way so the roadway alignments can be adjusted to avoid or minimize impacts to existing residences, businesses, natural resources and cultural resources.
  • What is being done to address environmental concerns?
    New location options T-1 and T-4 will not be studied further as part of this project. 

    Field biologists, geologists, engineers, architectural historians and archaeologists will conduct field surveys along existing roadways and within the study corridors for R-1, S-2 and S-6. If design studies find that the potential scenario suggested for the Stecoah area can meet design standards and satisfy the project’s purpose, field surveys will also be conducted for this new scenario. 

    Once field surveys are complete, the alignments for each scenario will be refined to avoid and minimize impacts to environmental resources. Other measures, such as retaining walls and slope adjustments will be evaluated to reduce impacts. 

    Stream and wetland impacts are also being surveyed and delineated. After stream and wetland impacts are avoided and minimized to the maximum extent practicable, any remaining impacts to the Waters of the U.S. will be addressed through compensatory mitigation measures.

    Evaluations, such as visual and noise studies, and design studies will also be done to assess potential impacts to the Appalachian Trail and to identify ways to avoid or minimize those impacts. These studies will be done in cooperation with National Parks Service, the U.S. Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
  • ​Why are there land surveyors in the area?
    Over the past few months, surveyors have been field-verifying aerial mapping so the project team can have accurate information on the location of homes, businesses, utilities and other human-built features. This work is being done for the existing roadway corridor, S-2, and S-6.

    Please contact the project team if there are cemeteries, wells, or any other features that you feel it should be aware of. Sites of a sensitive nature will not be made available to the public.
  • What is the purpose of the project?
    The project’s purpose is to address the physical and mobility needs of residents and those traveling through the area. Physical needs are related to the limited roadway options in Graham and Cherokee counties and how reliability can be affected by any type of blockage or disruption such as winter weather, fog, washouts, landslides, fallen trees, traffic incidents, vehicle breakdowns or slow-moving vehicles. Such situations adversely affect travel time as travelers must wait or back-track. Steep grades, narrow lane widths and sharp curves on U.S. 129, N.C. 143 and N.C. 28 affect travel speed and opportunities to pass slower vehicles. 

    The preliminary purpose and need statement is as follows:  “The proposed project purpose is to provide the transportation infrastructure necessary for the well-being of local residents and regional traffic by improving vehicular travel time, reliability and safety between the existing four-lane section on N.C. 28 at Stecoah and the existing four-lane section on U.S. 74 east of Andrew; providing an average travel speed of 50 mph, consistent with the Appalachian Development Highway System criteria and in a manner that is sensitive to the natural environment.”

    The preliminary purpose and need statement will be refined and finalized as the project’s scope and programming is confirmed.
  • Will Corridor K be a four-lane project?
    ​The number and type of lanes will be determined by the results of traffic studies. There may be areas where more than two lanes are needed for passing lanes, climbing lanes or dedicated turn lanes, but the project is not envisioned as a four-lane roadway, as in past studies.  The goal of the project is to find a ‘right-size’ design that can best address needs (noted in FAQ #6) while minimizing impacts.  The project team is currently collecting traffic counts that will help shape the design elements of each of the scenarios being studied.
  • How is the project being funded?
    ​The project is federally funded through the Appalachian Regional Commission and dedicated to the Appalachian Development Highway System Additional federal funding may be available by competing for national discretionary grants, such as BUILD and INFRA.
  • What are the next steps for the project?
    The project team is beginning detailed studies as part of the environmental review process. Field surveys are being conducted this spring and summer for existing N.C. 28 and N.C. 143 and within the R-1, S-2, and S-6 study corridors.  These surveys will catalog the location of buildings and utilities, streams, wetlands, rare and protected species habitat, historic structures and archaeological sites. 

    Traffic studies are also under development and other technical studies such as a community impact assessment and indirect and cumulative effects assessment will be developed.  A noise analysis and a visual impact analysis will be conducted as well as other effects assessed for the Appalachian Trail. 

    The design of the scenarios will be refined based on field surveys and the results of the technical studies.  A draft National Environmental Policy Act document will be completed in the fall and the final NEPA document will be completed by the end of 2019.
  • Who should I contact if I have a question?
    ​Those with questions and comments can send a message​, or contact Wanda Austin at (828) 631-1148 or Stacy Oberhausen at (919) 773-8887, ext. 116.

7/17/2019 6:45 PM