ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO WIDEN I-26
A WHKP Station Editorial
February 7, 2013
NC DOT is again, wisely and THANKFULLY, recognizing the heavy traffic congestion issue on I-26 through Henderson County…and they’re floating some “trial balloons” to see if there is public support for widening the interstate and adding additional lanes.
With bumper-to-bumper congestion at times, I-26 from Hendersonville to Asheville was, in peak traffic periods, a nightmare in slow-motion ten years ago. Back then, a handful of wrong-headed environmentalists convinced a wrong-headed federal judge that DOT had not completed an environmental impact study…and the widening was shot down…and the millions of “ready” dollars to do the deed got shifted to big cities down east to build beltways. And we were left with crawling or stalled solid lines of traffic, in every lane, on any given Friday afternoon or holiday and an interstate that looked more like “outside” Atlanta in “rush hour” than “outside” Hendersonville and Asheville.
As NC DOT again sees the need and develops a plan NOW, we hope they’ll get it right this time…and leave no loop-holes for the environmental obstructionists to slither through and queer the deal. And with clear-minded legislators like Apodaca, McGrady, Whitmire and Moffit now in the state house, with Pat McCrory in the governor’s mansion, and with Mark Meadows in the US Congress…we see NO reason this I-26 widening should be many years AWAY and FAR down on some priority list. The widening was needed a decade ago, it’s essential for our growth and safety NOW, and these elected officials have the power to move it on UP the list and get it done…NOW. And they should.
Northern Henderson and southern Buncombe counties is the FASTEST growing part of our whole region…with new industries and good paying jobs coming here every day. With additional lanes on I-26 that SHOULD have been built a decade ago, we’ll have the potential to create a “welcoming” and positive culture for even more growth and prosperity in Western North Carolina going forward.
It’s worth noting that some of those who opposed the widening most vocally a decade ago now advocate solving our traffic congestion issues with a few candy-colored trolley buses with a handful of passengers on them; cute little trolley buses with clanging bells and drivers dressed in zoot suits. For the record…THAT’S the kind of thinking that shot the widening down a decade ago, sent millions of dollars in road money down east, and left us with 21st century congestion…on a 20th century stretch of interstate highway. And that’s the kind of that should be totally ignored this time.
We supported the widening a decade ago…we support it even more strongly now…and hope to see NC DOT, our elected officials, and the general public move forward with it…without any unnecessary delays.
As always, we invite your comments…on our comments.
By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman