Shared by IRPO–from This Week at NCDOT: Memorial Day Travel

RALEIGH – The following are highlights from this week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. The stories below are also featured in NCDOT Now, the department’s weekly newscast.

Memorial Day Travel

Since Wednesday, the department has suspended most road construction activities on major routes to make travel easier for motorists. This hold on construction projects will continue along interstate, N.C. and U.S. routes until 9 p.m. on Tuesday, May 29.

To safely navigate the highways during Memorial Day weekend, remember these tips:
•    Your job is to be a safe driver, so avoid distracted driving. Focus on the road and let everything else wait until you arrive at your destination;
•    Use alternate routes, when possible, to avoid traffic congestion; and
•    Stay alert. Even if work is suspended, you may encounter narrowed lanes and traffic shifts in work zones.

Real-time traffic conditions and road closures are available by visiting

In addition, Memorial Day weekend kicks off the Governor’s Highway Safety Program Click it or Ticket campaign.  Law enforcement officers are increasing patrols to ensure that drivers and their passengers are buckling up every time they get in a vehicle. A recent crash simulation showed what can happen to those not wearing seat belts when in a vehicle crash at 50 mph.

This weekend, travelers can do their part and check to make sure everyone is buckled up.

Shared by IRPO–NCDOT Seeks Public Comment on Transportation Projects in June!

See Local Meeting Dates and Locations Below!

RALEIGH – Starting June 4, North Carolinians are invited to express their opinions about which regional and local transportation projects should be top priorities in the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) – a 10-year plan that identifies funding for projects and schedules them for construction.

The N.C. Department of Transportation combines data and local input to determine which projects will get built, using a formula established in the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law to focus funding on projects that will reduce congestion, improve safety and promote economic growth.

During a public comment period that runs from June 4 through July 9, NCDOT will collect feedback from citizens who express their views at public meetings, online, by phone or in writing.

Public Meetings

NCDOT’s 14 local transportation divisions will host informal meetings to present proposed projects and to receive public comment. The first meetings are Monday, June 4, in Winston-Salem (Division 9) and Thursday, June 7, in Aberdeen (Division 8).  See below for the schedules and locations of all the public meetings.

At each meeting, citizens are invited to stop in and provide input on how the division plans to rank its project priorities. Please note that these meetings are not for maintenance projects, such as patching potholes, resurfacing roads or improving ditches.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for anyone with disabilities who wants to participate in the public meeting. Anyone requiring special services should contact Lauren Putnam, Public Involvement Officer, at 919-707-6072 or by email at as early as possible, so that these arrangements can be made.

Other Ways to Participate

In addition to the public meetings, NCDOT is offering other options for citizens to provide input starting Monday, June 4, through the STI website (  Citizens can complete a short, interactive survey to identify priority projects, or send a message to their local division planning engineer.

The online survey features an interactive state map with the proposed projects up for funding.  Citizens can review project information and provide feedback on which projects they think are important.

The STI website provides the phone numbers and postal addresses of local division planning engineers, for citizens who want to comment on transportation projects by telephone or mail.

In April, NCDOT released data scores for more than 2,100 transportation improvement projects across the state, in the first round of an evaluation process to determine which projects will be scheduled for construction.  Also in April, NCDOT identified 77 high-scoring Statewide Mobility projects that will be programmed for funding over the next decade.

Next Steps

After the comment period ends on July 9, NCDOT will combine the data scores and local input to produce the total project scores. A draft list of the top-scoring Regional Impact projects is scheduled for release in August. A similar process for local input will take place in the fall for local Division Needs projects.

Once all project scores are finalized, the top-scoring projects will be programmed for construction based on available funding. Other factors may determine whether a project ultimately moves to construction, including the completion of environmental and engineering plans, corridor spending limits prescribed by law, and other federal and state funding restrictions.

This information will be used to create the next STIP for the years 2020-2029. NCDOT will release a draft STIP for public comment in January 2019. The final 2020-2029 STIP is expected to be adopted by the N.C. Board of Transportation in June 2019.

The STI law, enacted in 2013, established a data-driven process that allows NCDOT to invest transportation dollars more efficiently and effectively.  NCDOT updates the STIP approximately every two years to ensure that it accurately reflects the state’s current financial situation.

Meeting Dates and Locations near Isothermal RPO

(Div. 13 & 14)

  • JUNE 14, 5-7 P.M. – BLACK MOUNTAIN

    (DIVISION 13: Buncombe, Burke, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Rutherford and Yancey counties)

    Lake Tomahawk Park

    Lakeview Clubhouse

    401 Laurel Circle Drive

    Black Mountain, N.C.  28711


    JUNE 11, 5-7 P.M. – HAYESVILLE & JUNE 12, 5-7 P.M. – MILLS RIVER

    (DIVISION 14: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Polk, Swain and Transylvania counties)

    June 11: Hayesville First United Methodist Church

    989 U.S. 64 Business

    Hayesville, N.C. 28904

    June 12: Grace Community Church

    495 Cardinal Road

    Mills River, N.C. 28732

Shared by IRPO–Congratulations to Rutherford County for Winning a Grant from Rails-to-Trails Conservancy Doppelt Grant!

RTC’s 2018 Doppelt Grants Invest in 10 Trail Projects, Filling Critical Gaps in Trail Funding

Posted 05/22/18 by Eli Griffen in Building TrailsAmerica’s Trails

Katy Trail State Park | Photo by Aaron Fuhrman

Next week is National Trails Day 2018, and in honor of this celebratory occasion, Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2018 Doppelt Family Trail Development Fund grant program!

Since 2015, RTC’s Doppelt Fund has awarded nearly a half-million dollars in grants to nonprofits and government agencies working to develop and improve multiuse trails. Established with funding from philanthropist Jeff Doppelt of Great Neck, New York, and an anonymous donor, the Doppelt Fund helps organizations and local governments bring trail concepts to fruition and fill gaps in trails and trail systems. Uniquely, awards from the Doppelt Fund can be used to match federal or state funding awards—encouraging increased participation in these trail funding programs by municipalities and other levels of government, and demonstrating their value to decision-makers, locally and nationally.

Route of the Hiawatha | Photo by Milt Hull

2018 Grant Recipients

This year, RTC is awarding the most annual funds yet to the most awardees, with more than $140,000 going to 10 worthy recipients.

“The projects that we were able to fund this year are incredible,” said Jeff Doppelt. “Through a relatively small investment, we’re able to complete and connect iconic trails and improve the trail user experience. Hundreds of these types of projects exist all over the country; it’s important that people begin to understand that the need far outweighs the funding available. These projects are essential to building and maintaining the trails that so many of us love and that communities rely upon for recreation, transportation and economic vitality.”

The 2018 Doppelt Fund recipients are as follows:

  • City of Dayton (Ohio), receiving $15,000, which will serve as a federal funding match for the acquisition of a former rail corridor that will eventually be home to a new trail, The Flight Line.
  • Dallas County Conservation Board (Iowa), receiving $15,000 for the acquisition of six parcels of land required to extend the iconic High Trestle Trail to the Raccoon River Valley Trail north of Des Moines.
  • Friends of Clare County Parks & Recreation (Michigan), receiving $5,000 to increase support for an off-road alignment of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail through Clare.
  • Idaho Panhandle National Forests, U.S. Forest Service, receiving $20,000 to resurface and reshape the slope of the Route of the Hiawatha through the St. Paul Pass Tunnel.
  • Marin County Bicycle Coalition (California), receiving $5,000 to promote efforts to convert the closed Alto Tunnel into a crucial trail link through Marin County.
  • Rock Island Rail Corridor Authority (Missouri), receiving $25,000 for the Greenwood Connector, which will help to build the final 8-mile trail segment to complete a statewide trail connecting St. Louis to Kansas City via the Katy and Rock Island trails.
  • Western New York Land Conservancy, Inc., receiving $10,000 to conduct a design competition to convert a former rail line in Buffalo into a trail and linear park.
  • New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, receiving $7,500 to build support for the Ice & Iron Greenway, a future rail-trail through densely populated and underserved communities in North Jersey.
  • Rutherford County Government (North Carolina), receiving $30,000 for trail enhancements that will improve and encourage trail use, including the development of crosswalks and fencing; installation of educational kiosks and signs; and construction of wildlife viewing stations along an extension of the Thermal Belt Rail-Trail.

  • Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point, Inc. (North Carolina), receiving $10,000 to increase capacity for the future Southwest High Point Greenway, including outreach expenses and matching funds for additional grants.

Supporting the Growing Demand for Trails in America

This year, we received more than 180 applications from across the United States seeking nearly $5.5 million in funding to support their trail projects, reflecting the incredible demand for rail-trails and trail networks across the country.


Projected Population Change from 2010 to 2037 in North Carolina

Shared by IRPO–Early Estimates In for Storm-Damaged Roads

Costs to exceed $5.5 million

COLUMBUS – The cleanup continues in the mountains.

The Department of Transportation is assessing damage from heavy storms over the weekend as crews continue to clear roads in several western North Carolina counties affected by record rains.

Below is a list of necessary repairs as well as early projected cost estimates as of Monday. The first estimate exceeds more than $5.5 million for interstate, highway and secondary road cleanup. The early estimate for clearing and repairing U.S. 176 exceeds $1 million.

Polk County

  • Interstate 26 — Repair box culvert, repair concrete paved ditches, repair drainage boxes, repair shoulders washed out, repair guardrail, repair slope, remove slide debris.
  • U.S. 176 (Closed to through traffic) —  Repair two major debris flows, clear downed trees, repair shallow fill failures, repair ditches, clear blocked cross-pipes, repair driveways, fix pipes, replace/repair guardrail, repair pavement, repair bridge approach.
  • Holbert Cove Road (Closed to through traffic) — Repair fill-and-cut failures, clear blocked ditches, clean cross pipes, repair bridge, replace bridge with culvert, repair pavement damage.
  • Green River Cove Road (One lane open) — Repair multiple road washouts and pavement washouts, clear blocked ditches, clean blocked cross pipes, fill embankment failures, remove downed trees, repair retaining wall, repair pavement.
  • Warrior Drive — Repair several shoulder washouts, clear box culverts, repair pipes washed out, repair a three-pipe culvert.
  • Howard Gap Road — Repair multiple miles of concrete ditch from waterline failure, clear drainage boxes, repair shoulder, repair pavement, repair bridge pipe, repair embankments, clear pipes and ditches.
  • Fork Creek Road — Repair slope failures, clear ditches and pipes.
  • Pearson Falls Road — Repair unpaved road washed out at tunnel, repair other washouts, clear pipes and ditches, clear bridge pipe.
  • Indian Mountain Road — Clear multiple slides blocking ditches and clear pipes.
  • Meadowlark Drive — Repair washed-out pipes, repair damaged shoulders in steep-grade section.
  • Silver Creek Road — Repair washed-out pip and repair shallow embankment failures.
  • Various roads in Polk County — Clear and repair pipes, ditches and driveways.

Transylvania County

  • Wilson Road — Repair shoulder damage next to river

Henderson County

  • Butler Bridge Road (Closed due to high water) — Waiting for water to recede to assess damages.
  • Big Willow Road (Closed due to high water) — Waiting for water to recede to assess damages.
  • River Road (Closed due to high water) — Waiting for water to recede to assess damages.

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on Twitter.



Shared by IRPO–NCDOT Requesting Expedited Contract of Storm Repair


U.S. 176 traffic limited to local, emergency vehicles only

SYLVA – The N.C. Department of Transportation is requesting a non-declared emergency provision to hire contractors immediately to assist with storm damage recovery in Polk County.

“We are doing everything possible to clean up the damage and get the highway open as soon as possible for the residents of Polk County,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “The storms were devastating to the area, and a disruption to the daily lives of citizens.

“We know everything won’t be exactly as before, but we’d like for things to return to as normal as possible as soon as possible.”

Severe rain and thunderstorms on Friday night closed Interstate 26 for about 6 hours, U.S. 176 and multiple secondary roads in the county for longer periods of time.

The provision would expedite the process of local NCDOT officials hiring a contractor cleanup, debris removal, culvert replacements, shoulder repair, guardrail restoration and other restorations. Early estimates for the contract range from $1.5-2 million.

A mudslide along with ensuing cleanup and repairs will require several weeks for NCDOT and contractor crews to complete. Additional NCDOT crews from Henderson, Haywood and Transylvania counties assisted with cut-and-shove operations over the weekend.

U.S. 176, east of Saluda and near Thompson Road, is closed to through traffic and observers. Only local and emergency traffic is allowed through the closure.

The detour for westbound traffic involves taking N.C. 108 from the Tryon Area to I-26 West to Exit 59 and Ozone Drive back to U.S. 176. The opposite applies for eastbound traffic.

Transportation officials remind motorists to slow down in work zones, obey all posted signs and follow marked detours.

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

Shared by IRPO–Plan to be Presented to Public in Polk County

Important project to replace old bridge over I-26

SYLVA – The bridge over Interstate 26 is 52-years-old and the roundabouts sandwiching the bridge are out-of-date too.

Improvements are needed on West Mills Street between St. Luke’s Parkway and Walker Street in Columbus in order to bring the existing structures up to date, improve crash rates on this stretch of N.C. 108 and improve pedestrian and bicycle facilities too.

The N.C. Department of Transportation, with support from Polk County and the Town of Columbus, will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, May 22, to present initial design plans of proposed upgrades.

The proposed improvements include replacing the bridge, widening N.C. 108 to three lanes including curb and gutter, and widening the roundabouts to two lanes. The plan would also add sidewalks to both sides and expand the outside lanes to 14 feet to accommodate bicycles.

A project map can be viewed at

“This is the second phase of a plan to upgrade the area including I-26, U.S. 74 and N.C. 108,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “It’s nice to see the first phase going so well and along our plans to finish this fall.

“Here, the bridge has to be replaced and the hybrid roundabouts tie directly to the bridge. Widening will help traffic operations now and into the future, while the bicycle and pedestrian facilities will help those who walk and bike.”

The public drop-in meeting will be held from 4-7 p.m. at the Isothermal Community College Polk Center Auditorium at 1255 West Mills Street in Columbus.

Transportation officials will be available to answer any questions and listen to comments regarding the project. Comments will also be accepted via phone, email or mail until June 22. All comments will be considered as the project develops.

Submit comments to Dave Wilver at or (919) 326-6359. Contact Kenneth (Mac) McDowell, Division 14 Project Engineer at 253 Webster Road, Sylva, NC 28779 or for more information.

NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled persons who wish to participate. Anyone requiring special services should contact Caitlyn Ridge, P.E. at or (919) 707-6091 as early as possible to make arrangements.