At the September Town Board meeting, Mayor Patrick Taylor said two donors had stepped up to potentially help finance the construction of a sidewalk on NC 106 from Spring Street to Happoldt Drive.
Pictured at the top of the article is NC 106 looking towards Highlands. Dusty’s Meat Market is in the bottom left of the frame.
With that in mind, Stillwell Engineering was asked to supply a “design and construction cost estimate.”
Though commissioners weren’t ready to sign off on a complete and comprehensive cost estimate which would include a conceptual design phase and the project design phase for $175,000, it did sign off on the Conceptual Design for $15,000.
As explained by Town Engineer Lamar Nix, the Conceptual Design would be a detailed picture – a sort of artist rendition – of the project so potential donors could “see” the project beforehand.
But he said the price tag for the completed project will be high.
Fifteen years ago, Nix said it was estimated at $1 million. “It will be lot more than that now,” he said.
Besides construction costs, there are environmental concerns due to the creek that runs along the left side of NC 106, heading south.
Nix suggested putting the sidewalk down the right side of the road heading south but Commissioner John Dotson said he wouldn’t be able to sign off on even the Conceptual Design if it wasn’t going down the left side.
“The left-hand side of the road is the side that actually needs the sidewalk as far as future development is concerned,” he said. “There’s the Mitchell’s Motel property, the tract past Rogers that will be developed, the plaza across from Dusty’s.”
In addition, he said the town had been talking about a sidewalk going down NC 28 to Shelby Place.
“This is going to cure Shelby Place’s problem by going down 106 and it’s a heck of a lot better cure,” he said. “Plus people are actually using [walking on] the left side now.”
Dotson went on to say it seemed completely illogical to go down the wrong side [right side] of the road.
“As far as the future, the development potential on the right is zero. It’s all on the left side of the road,” he said.
The board agreed but said regardless of the side of the road if this can be done, it needs to be done, said Commissioner Brian Stiehler.
“Someone is going to get killed on the road. I like the idea of the left side, but if we can’t do it then do the right side,” he said. “If there is an environmental concern that can’t be overcome than go to the right.”
Commissioners agreed they needed to find out how much of an environmental problem there is.
“Let’s look at it. Let’s see how bad it is. Maybe we can build a retaining wall to make it less of an environmental concern,” said Dotson.
Mayor Taylor said that the sidewalk down NC 106 is part of NC DOTs sidewalk plan but it wouldn’t happen until 2039.
The conceptual design for $15,000 would be based on online GIS sources including North Carolina OneMap and North Carolina Spatial Data topographical Q1/Q2 LIDAR.
Also, field observation of existing drainage conveyance measures and structures and other facets that are not available via online sources.
Included there will be the construction project cost estimate based upon the conceptual design for all related construction administration, material, and installation costs to the extent possible.
The board voted unanimously to go ahead with the Conceptual Design going down NC 106 on the left side of the road.
After that is completed and presented to the donors, the board can decide if it wants to move on to the Project Design phase which will cost another $160,000 before construction can actually begin.
By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper