On April 13, NCDOT presented a modified plan of the N. Highland Lake Road project (U-5887) to the Flat Rock village council at a special council meeting, held in the new parish hall at St John in the Wilderness. And yes, there was a crowd. (The village council will vote on this issue at their meeting on Friday, April 27, at 10:00 a.m., to be held again in the new parish hall at St John. UPDATE: April 27 meeting cancelled.)
We wrote an earlier series on what changes to expect on the road with NCDOT’s original plan as presented in October 2017. Now we’ll take a look at how the modified plan will impact N. Highland Lake Road.
Starting at the intersection of Greenville Highway and N. Highland Lake Road:
- Intersection to be widened by taking property from the southeast and northeast corners of Greenville Highway and N. Highland Lake Road
- Left turn lane onto Greenville Highway from N. Highland Lake Road to be extended back 100 to 125 feet
Any changes on this corner affect historic properties with preservation agreements on the south side of N. Highland Lake Road and Pinecrest Presbyterian Church on the north side.
In order to avoid harming the church’s septic system and to create a greater right turn area for trucks and buses coming north on Greenville Highway, NCDOT’s modified plan for the widening of the intersection takes more property from the southeast corner. This, of course, infringes ever more into Flat Rock’s historic district line, cuts down a significant number of trees, and potentially encourages trucks to use Greenville Highway in greater numbers.
Extending the left turn lane on N. Highland Lake Road would require the road to be widened approx. 125 feet back from the end of the current left turn lane. It’s unclear from the modified plan which side of the road would lose the most in that widening, but it looks as though much of it would come from the church’s side.
NCDOT also shows a 5-foot wide sidewalk running alongside the church. Installing this sidewalk would require all the trees that currently serve as a noise and visual buffer for the church to be cut down. In addition, a 150-foot retaining wall must be built from the sidewalk along the church’s parking lot to allow NCDOT to level the ground for the sidewalk.
A retaining wall can attract graffiti, as we have seen in the village on the Crail Farm Bridge on Middleton Road.
Between the installation of the sidewalk and the retaining wall, and the loss of property for the turn lane extension, it becomes more and more difficult for the church to have enough space to replant their tree buffer.
And with the sidewalk ending at Greenville Highway, we are building a path that goes nowhere and connects to nothing.