Stop future Hwy 19E expansion in Mitchell / Avery County

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Am I the only one who has driven the two-mile stretch of 19E from the Avery County Line to Hardee's and wished for a four-lane highway? I say this with the utmost sarcasm of course. Buy now I’m sure some have noticed the white pickups driving up and down this section of Highway with their large aerial view maps and flashing lights. I was lucky enough to encounter one such crew recently and spoke with him regarding the plans for this section of Highway. From what I could see of the map it appeared to be about a 350 foot section that they were to survey, now of course, I don't believe the highway would require this much land but to know that the state could potentially take of this amount of property is concerning to say the least.

Now I understand the logic behind wanting to such a section of Highway completed, to have a continuous four-lane highway spanning two counties connecting with Interstate 26, but to what avail. I have heard some that wish for this project to be started here in Mitchell County with hopes to increase tourism to our town, but we must ask at what cost? The tourist that do come this area do not come here because we have a brand new four-lane highway they come to escape the commotion and turmoil of living elsewhere and to experience the unspoiled natural beauty of the area. The only thing this section of Highway will do for the tourism industry is to allow them to pass through Spruce Pine faster than they already do. If construction of this section of Highway does take place I can think of at least five businesses that will be disrupted or closed, one being one of the oldest remaining in Spruce Pine. Also there will be numerous homes and families that will be displaced as well. Who is to say that these families and businesses will return once they are forced to move?

Currently it takes a little over two minutes to travel this section of Highway at the current posted speed limit. That is of course with no accidents or unforeseen circumstances. However If construction does take place the current two minutes could turn into 20 minutes or longer, as anyone who has been to Burnsville lately can attest to. Since 2012 the citizens of Yancey County have had to endure constant delays, disruption in tourism and the local economy while continually facing ever changing road conditions and alternate routes. We must ask is this what we want for our community? Instead of a four lane with a continuous median or middle turn lane, how about expanding the current highway we have now to include a middle turn lane. That would be more than sufficient and would not disrupt nearly as much property if something does have to be done to this section of 19E.

As a lifetime resident of Mitchell County I understand the need for progress and renovation of this area as well as anyone, with that being said a 2 mile section of four lane highway is not the way to do it. As someone who is going to be directly affected by this undertaking, I ask you to join me and make your voice heard by signing my petition on to try and stop the senseless waste of taxpayer dollars. I ask all of you to contact our Senator Mr. Ralph Hise, also to talk with the current and future commissioners to see if there is some other way we could invest the millions of dollars that would be required to complete such a project and do something that would actually benefit the citizens of Spruce Pine. Instead of causing undue distress to the few remaining residents and entrepreneurs that we have left. As Thomas Jefferson said "Never put off tomorrow what you can do today"


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