Maggie Valley gets new elk crossing signs
Folks driving up or down Soco Mountain on the Haywood County side may notice some new signage indicating elk could be in the area.
The signs along the 3.5-mile stretch of road — three going up toward the Blue Ridge Parkway and three going down toward Maggie Valley — were paid for via grants from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority (HCTDA). The signs were installed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on Oct. 11.
Joyce Cooper, co-chair of the Great Smoky Mountain Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation said that while the signs are great to remind visitors that elk — a great draw for tourists — can be seen in the valley, their main purpose is to prevent collisions between the animals and vehicles. Since the reintroduction of elk to the area in 2001, there have been numerous occasions where they’ve been hit by motorists. Cooper noted that such collisions can be catastrophic for both elk and people.
“The number one priority is safety for the elk and the drivers,” she said. “We’re trying to get people to slow down a bit before they hit an elk.”
Cooper noted that NCDOT keeps a record of collisions on state roads, which is how the department determined the best places to put the signs. Cooper, who submitted the grants to RMEF and HCTDA, said the process took about six months, at which points they ordered the signs from TAPCO, the company that works with NCDOT on its signs. The signs themselves are 36-inch squares with continuously flashing, solar-powered LED lights.
“I am tickled to death with them,” Cooper said. “As a chapter, we’ve talked for several years about what we could do and what should be done to make the road safe for the animals and traveling public, and things came together this year.”
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Thank you Joyce Cooper ‼️