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Contact: Nancy Gray, (865) 436-1208
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials have announced the release of the White Oak Road Environmental Assessment. The assessment analyzes a proposal to issue a right-of-way (ROW) permit to North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC DOT) to allow widening of White Oak Road (State Rd. 1338) in Haywood County, NC, where the road crosses National Park Service property near I-40 at the Fines Creek exit. Park managers are inviting written or electronic public comments on the Park's proposed actions during a 30 day review process. Comments are due by March 19, 2010.
White Oak Road is not a primary access route to the Park and is used locally to gain access to residential areas and farms. The proposed road project will improve safety for larger vehicles accessing the area, including school buses and emergency vehicles. The majority of White Oak Road outside the park boundary has already been widened to accommodate these needs; however, the 0.3 mile segment of the road within the Park boundary has not been improved subject to this compliance process.
The section of White Oak Road crossing park property is approximately 0.3 miles long. The project site is located on an existing ROW that is 0.816 acres in the park. The proposed road project would expand the existing ROW by 0.705 acres, and with a requested temporary construction easement of 0.242 acres, would bring the total new disturbed area for this project to 0.947 acres. The proposal involves the widening of both sides of the road, including cut and fill slopes, and paving the road surface. The cost of the project will be paid by the State of North Carolina.
The document analyzes two alternatives and summarizes impact topics and potential environmental consequences associated with implementation of the alternatives: Alternative A is the No Action Alternative where there would be no changes made to the narrow, unpaved road corridor. The No Action alternative is presented as a requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act, (NEPA) and is the baseline condition with which proposed activities are compared. Alternative B is the Build Alternative and is the Environmentally Preferred and Preferred Alternative. NPS will work with NC DOT on several elements of the project to ensure no long-term adverse impacts on the environment.
The Environmental Assessment has been posted and is available for public review on the NPS' Planning web site at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm, "White Oak Road EA" link. The public can provide comments directly on the project site by the March 19 deadline. Before including address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in the comment, be aware that the entire comment - including personal identifying information - may be made publicly available at any time.
Printed copies of the EA can be reviewed at Park Headquarters, near Gatlinburg, TN., or at the following libraries: In North Carolina: Haywood County Public Library, Waynesville; Maggie Valley Library, Maggie Valley; Canton Library, Canton; Marianna Black Library, Bryson City; and Qualla Boundary Public Library, Cherokee. In Tennessee: Blount County Public Library, Maryville; Cosby Community Library, Cosby; and Sevier County Public Library, Sevierville.
Written comments must be postmarked by March 19, and sent to: Superintendent, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.