NCDOT, FHWA, and the Appalachian Regional Commission are funding a comprehensive economic planning process for the 7 counties, including Graham and Cherokee, in the Southwestern North Carolina Planning and Economic Development Commission.  The study, called Opt-In, is broader than transportation, focusing on finding a vision for western North Carolina’s community health and environmental quality.  In September and October 2013, Opt-In will hold a series of eight Community Workshops in each of the seven westernmost NC counties and in the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Download Flyer Here.

We encourage everyone to attend one of the Community Workshops.  The purpose of the workshops, according to Opt-In, is to give feedback on the first-phase of research and to plan for future activities.  For now, it is the most important means we have to let FHWA and NCDOT know that we don’t want their vision for an expensive and destructive 4-lane highway through our mountains.  Opt-In also allows you to comment and pose questions in the diary posts directly to Opt-In team members. You can also sign up to receive updates from Opt-In at the project website.

For details, please see the Smoky Mountain News article.