The area surrounding the intersection of North Main and Walnut streets is one place in Waynesville where there is a dearth of sidewalks, said Town Planning Director Paul Benson.
“This is the only missing section of sidewalk on the Waynesville pedestrian system that extends from the Rec Center all the way to Lake Junaluska,” Benson said. “That is why we focused on it in the first place.”
The town of Waynesville hired J.M. Teague Traffic Engineering, which is actually headquartered along that troublesome stretch of North Main Street, to study the intersection and draft a fix.
The plan, which is estimated to cost $3.2 million, includes widening and realigning the road around where Main and Walnut streets connect, adding sidewalks and creating bike lanes.
The biggest disturbance would be the realignment, which would make the turn from Walnut Street to North Main Street more of a 90-degree angle. The change would force a couple businesses out of the way.
“The muffler shop, that is the big one that is right on the corner,” Benson said. “That one would definitely go.”
A Waynesville institution, Duvall’s Restaurant, would also have to move.
The owner of both properties was not happy about the proposed changes, but he also took the “if it happens, it happens” philosophy, Benson said. The property owner would receive money to compensate him for any loss of property.
The people who rent from him and actually ran the businesses were not as easily placated, said Benson.
“The people who were renting were the ones who were really upset,” Benson said.
But then again, the businesses there could be long gone by the time the project gets started.
“There is no funding for this project; there is no timeline,” Benson said. “My best guess would be 30-years plus for construction.”
The plan is simply one of many to-do projects that Waynesville wants to receive DOT funding for. It must battle the state bureaucratic ranking system, which rates hundreds of road projects throughout the state based on importance and need for funding.
The North Main Street Corridor plan is by no means the most important, especially since there are no congestion problems at the intersection.
“There is no real critical need for it at this point,” Benson said.
Although Waynesville will not touch the roads, it could install the sidewalks.
“That might be something we can go forward with on its own,” Benson said.