Noting it required “heavy lifting” and “was a ton of work,” Chairman Brownie Newman praised Commissioners and the multiple agencies pledging support to finish construction of the bridge over Hominy Creek from Smokey Park Highway. On Feb. 18, Commissioners unanimously approved putting $650,000 toward the effort with the Appalachian Regional Commission anticipating contributing $2 million from an award, NCDOT providing $1.5 million, and development group Fletcher Partners kicking in $350,000.
With completion of the bridge, the Enka-Candler community will have access from Smokey Park Bridge to Walk Off Way. The road will utilize Complete Streets which feature bike lines and a sidewalk. “The goal was to build a bridge kids could walk across to school and keep traffic of Sand Hill Road,” said Commissioner Joe Belcher.
Completion of the bridge not only provides access from Smokey Park Bridge to Walk Off Way, it will:
- Provide alternative access from Sand Hill Road to Smokey Park Highway
- Increase transportation access for Enka Intermediate School and the future Enka Fire Substation
- Improve pedestrian accessibility through Commerce Park with sidewalks, bike lanes, and Enka Heritage trail
- Improve freight movement for oversized vehicles to Haakon Industries and the other ten industries currently at Commerce Park (about 1,000 employees and 250 daily freight drops)
- Promote the future economic development of the area by providing access to more than 50 acres of industrial land.
Construction is set to begin on the Walk Off Way section this summer with work on the Enka Heritage stretch set to start in fall 2020. The goal is for the project to be complete by spring 2021, pending issues with procurement, weather, and other potential delays.
“This has been a long time coming,” noted Commissioner Belcher. “We’ve got a road we were told over over… it’s not going to happen, but people in the community, the Commissioners, and others did not accept that answer… It’s amazing what it’s going to do for the community.”
For more information on the project, click here.