One step closer

Published 8:00 am Saturday, July 14, 2018

RPO approves resolution to remove 108 plan from STIP

TRYON — A push to remove the department of transportation’s proposed widening of Highway 108 between Columbus and Tryon moved one step closer to its goal, as the Isothermal Rural Planning Organization approved a resolution Wednesday to delete the project from the state’s transportation improvement program.

The IRPO met Wednesday and approved the resolution, which states that the technical advisory committee of the organization withdraws its support for project R-5838, and requests that the board of transportation amend the 2018-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to remove the project.

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Isothermal Planning and Development Commission Senior Planner/RPO Director Karyl Fuller said she has forwarded the resolution to North Carolina Department of Transportation Engineer Brian Burch.

“The next steps are for the board of transportation to amend the 2018-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to delete the project,” Fuller said.

The resolution states that the IRPO previously submitted the R-5838 project to compete for funding in the STIP and it was selected.

“R-5838 has generated a lot of community concerns while going through preliminary engineering and environmental review process,” states the resolution.

The resolution also says the town of Columbus requested that improvements from St. Luke’s Hospital to town limits be retained as a separate project, and that Columbus, Tryon and Polk County have all removed their support for the project.

NCDOT first announced its plans to widen Highway 108 between St. Luke’s Hospital and U.S. 176 in Tryon to four lanes last year. The town of Tryon held a public meeting last year regarding the project, with over 100 people against the widening in attendance.

In April of this year, NCDOT announced its amended plans for the project, which included keeping the highway at two lanes, but adding 12 turn lanes and replacing two bridges. The project would have caused the relocation of four commercial buildings and six homes.

A committee, named “Save Hwy 108 & Lynn,” quickly formed and attended local government and RPO meetings. The group created a petition, emailed and called legislators and NCDOT officials, and voiced its concerns at several meetings.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners and Tryon and Columbus town councils recently sent letters to NCDOT asking for the “No Build” option on the section between Columbus and Tryon. County commissioners have also directed its appearance commission to research how to get the 3-mile section designated as a scenic byway.

It was not known as of press time when the state board of transportation is scheduled to meet to decide on the project.