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Landslide protocol: a muddied affair

coverThe tragic death of a railroad worker investigating a fresh landslide along a rail line last week highlighted the hidden, yet inherent, risks for workers who are first on the scene in the aftermath of a slide. 

Joseph Drewnoski, 33, of Waynesville, was buried and killed by a landslide in the middle of the night while surveying tracks for storm damage near Black Mountain following a weekend of unrelenting rains. Norfolk Southern Railway got a report of a landslide on the tracks in the middle of the night and sent Drewnoski and another worker to check it out.

DOT to pave the way for new casino coming to Murphy

The construction of a bridge and entrance road to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ second casino in Murphy has jumped from not even on the radar to the front of the N.C. Department of Transportation’s list of top road-building priorities.

Compromise forged to save metal truss bridge

fr mccoybridgeMacon County residents hoping to save an old metal truss bridge spanning the Little Tennessee River scored a small win, but the victory is bittersweet.

DOT negotiates buyouts for Haywood interchange

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is in the middle of buying nearly 40 Haywood County properties that stand in the way of its plans for redesigning “malfunction junction” — the interchange where Lowe’s and Shoney’s are — but there are still a few holdouts.

Neighbors hit snag in quest to rename road

fr streetsignsHate the name of your street? In Haywood County, changing it shouldn’t be that hard.

Come up with a new name, make sure the name isn’t already taken by another street and get at least 65 percent of your neighbors to agree.

Scoring coveted brown highway signs can pay off

Nantahala-bound travelers will notice a suite of new, officially-sanctioned, brown roadside directional signs declaring they are on the right track to the renowned paddling Mecca — signs that rafting outfitters in the Nantahala Gorge hope will alleviate the problems caused by ineffectual GPS.

For those who know, driving to the Nantahala Gorge is simple. Just follow U.S. 74 past Bryson City and you’re there. But, for those who don’t, a.k.a. the tourists who visit Nantahala to raft, kayak or hike, the journey can be tricky.

Catch 22 for Macon Middle intersection

Macon County leaders are at odds with the N.C. Department of Transportation over the placement, or lack thereof, of a stoplight at an intersection near Macon Middle School.

For two years, Macon County Sheriff’s Office deputies have been stationed at the intersection of Wells Grove and Clarks Chapel during peak traffic times when school is in session. Sheriff Robbie Holland said two deputies each day direct traffic in the morning as cars pour into and out of the school’s parking lot.

State pledges to clamp down on improper activity at Haywood DOT

coverWaste, favoritism and possible fraud and corruption by state highway workers in Haywood County enriched a local contractor and cost state taxpayers, according to a sweeping investigation released late last week by the N.C. State Auditor’s Office.

Influential DOT board member from Jackson steps down

Western mountain counties will have a new representative on the N.C. Department of Transportation board with the departure of long-time board member Conrad Burrell, who has stepped down from the powerful post after more than 11 years.

Highlands roadwork troubles some merchants

fr highlandsRepaving of the steep, windy, two-lane road from Franklin to Highlands has many merchants worried about whether this heavily tourism-dependant town will find itself choked off financially.

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