The alignment chosen utilizes existing highways instead of the five other alternatives, which required sections on new locations.
The typical roadway section for this project, designated as A-0009C, includes one lane in each direction with alternating climbing and passing lanes and an 8-foot-wide shoulder.
This will improve mobility and reliability between U.S. 129 in Robbinsville and the existing four-lane section on N.C. 28 at Stecoah. It also will provide a safety benefit for pedestrians in Robbinsville and at the Appalachian Trail.
“This selection allows NCDOT and its agency partners to focus our resources on a single plan that best serves the residents,” NCDOT Division 14 Project Development Engineer Wanda Austin said. “We have taken a major step together and we look forward to continuing our partnerships with local government officials, the environmental agencies and advocacy groups through the entire process.”
NCDOT officials, along with representatives from Graham County, Appalachian Regional Council, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Federal Highway Administration, 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 chose the recommended alternative by weighing a wide range of important considerations.
Cost, design considerations, travel benefits, community impacts, public input, and the minimization of natural resources all factored into the final decision. Construction on the project, with a cost of at least $133 million, may begin as early as the fall of 2022. Corridor K is part of the Appalachian Development Highway System established by Congress in 1965.
The project team plans to finish the Environmental Assessment this summer which will be followed by additional public engagement in the fall.