NC DOT is calling for public comment on the long-awaited Corridor K.
The highway, which will improve mobility in Graham County, was originally a part of the Appalachian Development Highway System, a network of road corridors funded by Congress in 1965.
The corridor was restarted in 2015 after a long pause and there is now a preferred alternative for the project.
Wanda Austin, division project development engineer, explains that the o improve the existing roads between Robbinsville and Stecoah, add climbing lanes, turn lanes, paved shoulders, and a land bridge for the Appalachian Trail crossing. There is also a multi-use path in Stecoah Valley as part of the plan.
“At the meeting, we hope to get confirmation that this is still the right fit for Graham County from their perspective. We are also looking for any ideas or improvements to the project,” says Austin.
The public comment period ends October 30. NC DOT hopes the final environmental impact study will be published in December and the design will be finalized in 2021. Construction is currently scheduled to start in August 2022.
Overall, Corridor K extends from I-75 in Cleveland, Tennessee, to Dillsboro in Jackson County. This project is among the last of the Appalachian Development Highway System's corridors to be completed.
The total project was originally estimated to cost $681 million. Austin says that this portion is now estimated to cost about $130 million, so far $2.5 million has been spent on planning since 2015. The original project also included improvements between Andrews and Stecoah but that that part is currently considered “unfunded,” according to Austin.