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Wednesday, 08 February 2012 21:11

Haywood commissioners join fray over Cherokee signage

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The Haywood Board of Commissioners agreed to put its John Hancock on a letter asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to post an additional “This way to Cherokee” sign near Dillsboro.

The letter is a classic case of turn-about being fair play. Jackson County previously touched off a firestorm when it asked for a sign in Haywood County directing Cherokee-bound travelers past their own doorstep, hoping to divert traffic from the Maggie Valley route its way.

“Traffic is the livelihood of Maggie Valley,” said Commissioner Mike Sorrells “As we all know, that particular area is struggling.”

So in a rebuttal of sorts, Haywood leaders are asking for a sign in Jackson that would direct tourists to Cherokee back through Haywood County.

Specifically, Haywood’s letter asks DOT to consider placing a sign on U.S. 441 in Dillsboro to catch travelers coming up from the Atlanta area. The new signage would inform motorists that they can also reach Cherokee by coming back through Waynesville and Maggie Valley, although it is considerably longer than simply continuing on U.S. 441 to Cherokee.

Haywood County leaders stated that they are willing to share the expense of the new sign pointing Haywood’s way.

Because DOT’s safety and travel time survey’s do not favor one route over the other, Haywood County officials say there is no reason to post alternative signage directing Cherokee traffic through Jackson County instead of Maggie Valley.

“I don’t necessarily oppose it, but it’s not necessary,” said Chairman Mark Swanger.

However, Jackson County leaders say that two-lane U.S. 19 can be treacherous for large vehicle drivers and during the winter months.

Cece Hipps, president of the Greater Haywood County Chamber of Commerce; Teresa Smith, executive director of the Maggie Valley chamber; and Lynn Collins, executive director of the Haywood County Tourism and Development Authority have already signed the letter.

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