Input sought on proposed connector road
by Anna Oakes
More than 60 citizens and public officials turned out to learn more about a proposed road connecting Bodenheimer Drive to N.C. 105 at an informational workshop held Monday.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is currently studying the options for the proposed connector and hosted the workshop to provide maps of three route alternatives being considered for the road, to answer questions and to receive public input.
"We are very hopeful to receive comments from everyone that attended," said Joe Laws, NCDOT Division 11 project manager.
Bodenheimer Drive intersects Rivers Street across from Depot Street in Boone. A number of Appalachian State University buildings and facilities are located on the drive.
Campus officials say the road is needed to alleviate traffic congestion on campus, especially after special events.
As part of a $250,000 preliminary engineering design, NCDOT provided three alternatives for evaluation at Monday's informational workshop.
The Poplar Grove Road alternative would extend Bodenheimer Drive westward to join the existing Poplar Grove Road at a location between The Meadows and Kalmia Lane, according to maps provided by NCDOT.
The Poplar Grove Realignment alternative would extend Bodenheimer Drive to the southwest and then west to align with Poplar Grove Road near the intersection with Coffey Knob Road.
The Homespun Hills Road alternative would extend Bodenheimer Drive to the west and then south to connect with Homespun Hills Road, which currently dead ends.
Estimated costs of the project range from $2.5 million to $3.2 million, depending on the alternative, NCDOT said.
The project would widen vehicle lanes to 11 feet wide; Chris Johnson of engineering firm Gannett Fleming said the lanes on Poplar Grove Road are currently nine or 10 feet wide.
As of this month, the intersection of Poplar Grove Road and N.C. 105 has a stoplight; the Homespun Hills intersection does not.
Grading costs would factor into the Poplar Grove Road realignment and Homespun Hills alternatives, and Johnson said the Homespun Hills connector would require a steep grade from the existing neighborhood up to Bodenheimer Drive.
Right-of-way costs are a consideration, too. Under the Homespun Hills alternative, some 20 parcels would be impacted by the existing road widening, but most of the new road construction would fall on land owned by ASU. The Poplar Grove Road alternative would largely follow an existing road, but the road widening (as opposed to new construction) would cover more ground.
Transportation projects are submitted to the N.C. Department of Transportation for funding consideration every two years. The next round of projects is scheduled to be submitted in January 2014, with final adoption in the State Transportation Improvement Program by July 2015.
Mike Pettyjohn, NCDOT Division 11 engineer, said the projects submitted in January 2014 will be scored and prioritized under the state's newly adopted Strategic Mobility Formula.
Under the formula, state-level projects receive 40 percent of available funding, regional-level projects receive 30 percent of available funding and the division level receives 30 percent of available funding during the next 10 years.
Watauga County Commissioner Billy Kennedy was among 19 public officials who attended Monday's workshop. Kennedy said leaders must examine the county's priorities as projects compete for funding.
"ASU is the economic engine of our county. We want it to keep growing without hurting the county," Kennedy said.
Pettyjohn said NCDOT will receive comments from the public on the proposed road during the next 30 days. NCDOT will then select the best alternative and develop a more detailed design.
For more information, contact Laws at (336) 903-9138 or (email@example.com) Submit written comments to 801 Statesville Road, North Wilkesboro, NC 28659.