2020 has been a year for the record books. It’s hard to think back to the early part of the year when, for only the third time in the nation’s history, a U.S. president was impeached.

Normally such an event is the defining story of the year. With the COVID pandemic and mass protests against policing tactics, impeachment might not even crack the top 5 given the pace we’re on. New and foreseen events seem to transpire almost by the hour.

A Saharan sandstorm. In Jackson County.


Such is 2020.

Maybe the sandstorm killed some of the murder hornets on the way in.

But seriously, the year has been fatal or crippling to far too many Americans thanks to COVID. For those lucky enough to avoid the pandemic and still keep gainful employment, the fallout has been mainly an inconvenience: stalled vacation plans, the loss of sporting events, the inability to visit loved ones at risk and wearing a mask. (We can’t say this enough: Wear a mask).

2020 is winding up to throw another inconvenience at the good folks of Jackson County.

Work is about to begin to replace the bridge on Haywood Road over Scotts Creek and Smoky Mountain Railroad in Dillsboro. For nine months, U.S. 23/74 will be closed, and traffic rerouted.

It will be inconvenient. That said, the revised plan appears to be a vast improvement on the original plan. Work will take place over nine months instead of the original three years. The price tag on the plan will drop from $14 million to $11 million, with Dillsboro receiving almost half-a-million dollars of the savings.

Brian Burch, NCDOT Division 14 engineer, said, “The changes will benefit the entire community by reducing the overall construction time by two years and limiting disruptions and delays to those traveling through the area. We believe the cost savings to the taxpayers, as well as the reduction in the length of traffic impacts, to the area of Dillsboro outweigh the short-term inconvenience motorists will face.”

Originally, Dillsboro objected to the closure of Haywood, fearing a heavy impact on businesses in the town. Then along came COVID, with heavy impacts on businesses in Dillsboro and everywhere else. Getting the project completed as soon as possible seemed to make sense, and Dillsboro officials gave their consent for the revised plan.

Full details on the project, detour routes and more are inside this week’s Herald.

One important caveat regarding the plan: We’ve entered the season of the summer deluge, with frequent intense storms. All possible care must be taken to keep silt out of county waters, which have been plagued with runoff from construction work upstream. The local fishing industry is as vital as ever, and we certainly don’t need such a powerful local draw knocked to its knees when much of the rest of the economy is reeling, especially from a self-inflicted wound.

That said, to quote Larry the Cable Guy, let’s “git ’er done.” Yes, it will be an inconvenience. But in the grand scheme of such things in 2020, it’s a piker compared to other inconveniences we find ourselves facing.