Initial North Shore Road payment clears Senate

Swain County inched a notch closer this month toward seeing a cash settlement in lieu of the long-promised North Shore Road.

The U.S. Senate has included $6 million in its version of the federal budget as a cash settlement for Swain County. The allocation is not in the House version of the bill, but U.S. Rep. Heath Shuler, a champion of the cash settlement, said he expects it will be in the final version of the budget after the House and Senate go to conference committee on the budget. Shuler was instrumental in forming a bi-partisan coalition across the Senate and House to advance the cause of a cash settlement for Swain County.

The $6 million is what’s left over from $16 million initially appropriated several years ago for construction of the road by then Congressman Charles Taylor, an avid road supporter. The money wasn’t actually spent on road construction, however, but instead went toward a study of the road’s environmental impacts on the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The study used up $10 million.

A fair cash settlement by the federal government in lieu of the road is pegged at $52 million. The rest of the cash settlement would come in appropriations in later years.

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