NOTE: This is a synopsis of the project's history, current status and next steps. More detailed information is also available for review.
Transportation improvement studies for this region have been in various planning stages for decades. Because of the sensitive environmental, cultural, and natural resources in the area, the Federal Highway Administration and the N.C. Department of Transportation are taking a fresh look at the project.
New studies for this project officially began in July 2015 with a transportation and resource agency leadership meeting where themes were identified for a new project approach. Before initiating the formal environmental review process, the team needed to refine project elements in more detail than the general descriptions contained in the Graham and Cherokee County Comprehensive Transportation Plans and the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.
Although specific elements of the project are still being explored, a "fresh look" approach with a focus on early and ongoing collaboration was developed to help avoid schedule delays by identifying and addressing concerns as they developed. The new process emphasizes early and continuing participation of local elected officials and governmental staff members.
The Federal Highway Administration and NCDOT completed a Design Study Report (DSR) in October 2019. The DSR describes coordination with representatives from regulatory and resource agencies, local elected officials, and local governmental staff to identify project elements studied during the formal environmental review process under the National Environmental Policy Act
(NEPA). Coordination with agencies, local officials, and government staff is ongoing during the NEPA process