Park service holds meetings on "Road to Nowhere"

The Associated Press
News Observer


BRYSON CITY, N.C. (AP) - Keith Tipton wants the National Park Service to resolve the decades-old dispute over North Shore Road by building the road.

Fellow Swain County residents Dave and Jane Allison say a cash settlement makes more sense for the county and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The park service held the first in a new round of meetings Monday night to hear public comment on proposals for the so-called "Road to Nowhere."

A $52 million cash settlement and construction of a road along the northern shore of Fontana Lake are just two of six options the National Park Service is proposing to study as the agency tries to resolve the 1943 agreement with Swain County.

Under that agreement, the government was supposed to build a road to replace N.C. 288, which was flooded by construction of the Fontana Dam. Part of the road was built in the 1960s, but the highway was never completed because of environmental and financial concerns.

Decades later, the issue is still hotly debated.

Environmental groups fear the effects of road construction on a remote section of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Supporters of the road say it could bring money to Swain County and would provide access to old family cemeteries for those forced to leave their homes when the dam was built.

"The agreement in '43 said they'd build a North Shore Road. That was the agreement," Tipton said. "If we don't stand up, we lose everything."

Tipton was among more than 180 people who showed up at Swain County High School for Monday's meeting.

Phil Francis, acting superintendent of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said the list of possible alternatives is just a draft.

The park service plans to hold a second meeting Tuesday night at Robbinsville High School. A third meeting is scheduled for Thursday in Asheville.

Additional meetings will be held in Tennessee next week.


Information from: The Asheville Citizen-Times,



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