I want to begin by saying that I am grateful for the four-lane widening project of Hwy. 221. The safety and ease of getting to and from Hwy. 421 is much appreciated. However, there is one considerable speed bump on the road to progress. I understand the basic reasoning for the bulb-outs (not wanting traffic to cross multiple lanes at intersections), however, the lack of turn lanes, specifically into the Baldwin convenience center is inadequate in design and function.
According to The Ashe County Environmental Waste Dept., approximately 3,600 people use that convenience center per month. I would wager that well over half travel from the West Jefferson side. This means that as many as 2,000 trips per month have to travel an extra half mile up and half mile back because there is no turn lane into the center. That is 24,000 unnecessary miles traveled every year. That math is the opposite of “environmentally responsible,” wasteful, costly and doesn’t add to safety!
This concern was related to the NCDOT and to their credit they responded, and this is an excerpt included from their explanation: “To the south there is the cemetery/historic property which required the construction of a retaining wall as well as maintaining the existing property access. As stated above the primary purpose of the project is safety and hopefully as drivers become accustomed to the design they will not feel as inconvenienced, especially as traffic increases over time.”
I greatly appreciated hearing back from the NCDOT so soon. I still also believe accommodations could have been made either by the NCDOT and/or in conjunction with Ashe County when I drive by and observe the current layout as the NCDOT spokesperson described it. We have a very streamlined and efficient waste and recycling program in Ashe County, the NCDOT should make it easier, not more difficult or inconvenient to use. Thank you.