Businesses such as Speedy’s Pizza in Sylva continue to await final word of how pending road construction will affect their future. Current plans show a bulbout going right through the dining room. 

 Utility location has held the N.C. Department of Transportation plan to reconfigure N.C. 107/U.S. 23 Business through Sylva’s business corridor at 65 percent. The plans reached the 65 percent threshold since at least July, but work is ongoing.

“We are progressing forward,” said Jeanette White, Division 14 senior project engineer. “We’ve been working on 65 percent revisions, revisions, revisions for quite a while now. We still don’t have any PUEs (permanent utility easements) yet, and we basically made a decision to move forward with the roadway design and get it more finalized.”

The DOT plans to eliminate the center turn lane on N.C. 107 in favor of a median, separating the southbound traffic and northbound traffic, with sidewalks replaced and a 5-foot bike lane added. Upgrades are slated for the N.C. 107/U.S. 23 Business intersection, and from U.S. 23 Business to Dillardtown Road and Municipal Drive, near the Sylva Fire Department.

Construction is expected to start in February 2023 and last for three years.

“This week we will reach something of a milestone when we reach not quite finalized 65 percent plans, but plans that can be sent over to the Roadway Design Unit for a big review,” she said.

The Roadway Design Unit will review the project because of its size and scope, White said.

“We have a team of experts in Raleigh who review the plans and produce comments,” she said. “It could be minor comments, like ‘Move this over,’ or it could be ‘Well, what about this or what about that?’ and we get some different perspective on the project.”

White likened it to writing a novel.

“It’s nice to have someone to go through and check your grammar even though you feel like you have checked it 1,000 times,” she said.

That process might take a month or two, depending on what kind of feedback comes from the committee.

Part of the holdup has been changes made to the project, White said.

Some property owners have asked for their property to be purchased instead of having a wall constructed on their land, she said.

“We do a cost/benefit analysis to make sure it is beneficial or costs less to not install the wall there, and to take the property instead,” White said.

If building the wall is cheaper for taxpayers, that’s what they will do, White said.

“We’re always looking out for the taxpayer, what the cost to benefit is,” she said. “Many have talked to us and realized they are getting fair market value rather than selling to somebody that might negotiate a little bit more vigorously.”