Editorial on CTP Public Hearing

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In case you have not heard about Andrews Valley Initiative (AVI), it is, according to their website, a “grassroots 501(c)3 non-profit organization located in Andrews, NC, whose mission is to plan for progress in the Andrews valley while preserving its heritage and protecting its beauty for generations to come.” Executive Director Bob Ferreira has been helpful in sending email notifications out to surrounding counties on matters of events, local businesses and politics.

In today’s email Ferreira forwarded a notification from WaySouth, an organization that, according to its website, “works to preserve and protect the unique heritage and environment of the Southern Appalachians by promoting sustainable transportation practices.” Many of you may be familiar with this group and their vocal opposition to Corridor K. AVI’s Director, Ferreira, wanted to pass along WaySouth’s response to Graham County’s upcoming Public Hearing on the CTP (comprehensive transportation plan). Ferreira hopes we do better than Cherokee County because “only the usual suspects showed and a weak plan was rubber stamped.”

Following is the (unedited) email written by Melanie Mayes, who is a Staff Scientist in the Environmental Sciences Division of the Climate Change Science Institute at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as well as Chair for the Board of WaySouth:

Graham County has published its comprehensive transportation plan at http://www.grahamcounty.org/forms/transportation/CTP.pdf.

The plan is supposed to have come out of the Opt-In process, but the plan doesn’t match the outcomes of Opt-In. Opt-In found the community wanted to minimize the impact of new highways. Unfortunately NCDOT is selling the same old, expensive and destructive solution. The Plan widens Hwy 129 (Tallulah Road) to a 4-lane divided highway. Even worse, this plan runs the road through the Jutts Creek community, resulting in considerable loss of land and homes. It delays the potential outcome of improving existing roads using the $275 million the state currently has access to, in the hopes that another billion or more will fall out of the sky to build what Graham County is asking for. And it doesn’t focus on other improvements to boost the local tourism economy, like free public Wifi and attracting new businesses, and promoting local entrepreneurship. In short, it’s bad news and isn’t what the community asked for with Opt-In. They really wanted better transportation alternatives, and they wanted them quickly.

The County Commission will vote on whether to adopt the plan on April 21 at 5:45 at the Graham County Community Building, 196 Knight Street. We hope the Jutts Creek community will come out in full force, and they would certainly appreciate if you can attend. The talking points are above, and I’ll send out more through the week.

In addition, SouthWings sponsored a flight over Jutts Creek last month, and our own Don McGowan of Earthsong Photography took some fabulous photos. I’ll share those with you as well, so stay tuned! And help spread the word.

Check into our Facebook page too — which is an easy way to share. I’ll post the photos there too.

All the best, Melanie
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