BOONE — Local elected officials and the general public had their first chance to see the proposed Wilson Ridge Road and Bamboo Road project plans at the Boone Moose Lodge on Feb. 21.

“The primary purpose of this project is to achieve current design standards for travel lane and shoulder widths while improving the sight distance along Wilson Ridge Road and Bamboo Road,” stated Tristram Ford of project designers RK&K and N.C. Department of Transportation consultant. “Other desirable outcomes of the project are improving safety and reducing traffic congestion by upgrading intersections.”

The plan for the 1.9-mile stretch going from the intersection of U.S. 421 and Bamboo Road to Bamboo and Wilson Ridge Road and ending at Wilson Ridge and Deerfield Road is to widen the road from 10-foot to 12-foot lanes, add retaining walls and include four feet of paved shoulders on each side.

The recent estimated cost of the project was $9.5 million, not including right-of-way acquisition. The project is slated to begin with right-of-way acquisition this summer, with construction starting in 2020. NCDOT Engineer Ramie Shaw previously said the project would take “at least three years.”

Roundabouts are also planned at the intersections of Wilson Ridge and Deerfield, Wilson Ridge and Bamboo and Bamboo and Brook Hollow Road. When asked by Watauga County Sheriff Len Hagaman, RK&K’s Brandon McInnis said that the center medians of the roundabouts would be accessible for emergency vehicles.

Also included in the draft are plans to create a new stretch of road along Wilson Ridge Road that would replace the current S-curve escarpment. According to RK&K’s Brandon McInnis, the current grade of the curve is “just over 17 percent,” and the replacement stretch would be “a little under 12 percent.”

The plan would also realign the intersection of Bamboo Road and U.S. 421 away from the gas station, putting in two left turn lanes and two right turn lanes from Bamboo onto U.S. 421 to alleviate congestion. The realigned intersection could also later incorporate the entrance to the proposed town of Boone municipal services complex.

According to RK&K, the draft plans would result in one business relocation and three residential relocations. The business, Street Smart Auto Sales, is located at the corner of Wilson Ridge and Deerfield where the planned roundabout would go.

The four-foot-wide paved shoulders could act as a “de-facto bike path,” McInnis said, along with additional unpaved shoulder space.

Despite heavy pedestrian use of the stretch of Bamboo from Brook Hollow to U.S. 421, Ford said there are currently no plans for sidewalks in the project.

Ford and McInnis said that the stretch of Bamboo from Brook Hollow to U.S. 421 is the only part of the project that is county land, and any sidewalk project would be subject to a partnership program with the local government.

Public comments can be submitted by March 8 via phone, email or mail. For additional information or to mail comments, contact Ramie Shaw by email at rashaw@ncdot.gov, phone at (336) 903-9134 or by mail at 801 Statesville Road, North Wilkesboro, N.C., 28659.

Reporter

(2) comments

Dave Freireich

Thanks to the NCDOT for trying to make this route safe. Harmony Lanes is asking them to design something much safer than a “de facto” bike lane for the large number of people who want to bike and walk this route. Please search for the Harmony Lanes Facebook group if you’d like to help us ask for more.

jgmastin@yahoo.com

It's about time that the NCDOT, the County, and Town of Boone is taking action to make these badly needed improvements to this heavily used alternate route into and around Boone. The next thing the DOT and Town of Boone need to address is the horrible timing of the stoplights in and around Boone. They allow massive strings of traffic to build up and release them only to quickly stop them at the next light creating a backup cue with massive streams of traffic and often grid-lock. Apparently the engineers or staff who program these lights have never heard of "interference and delay" commonly know to as the "box car effect", which refers to the starting of a long chain of railroad box cars pulled by a locomotive and the amount time it takes for the last box car in the chain to start moving. Shorter traffic cue build-ups are much more efficient in keeping traffic moving due to the reduction of interference and delay. Shorter light cycles are also less frustrating to drivers than being stuck in massive strings of bumper to bumper traffic. The NCDOT and Town of Boone have waited much to long to do anything about the rapidly growing traffic problems in Boone. We simply stay away from Boone and go to West Jefferson and the Wilkesboros to eat out and shop and we know many other people who do the same. The long delayed and much need 4-lane by-pass around Boone is needed more than ever, but the these short term improvements are badly needed and way past due. Let's expedite them and get them done sooner, rather than later!

J. Grant Mastin
Deep Gap

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