Showdown looms over Russ Avenue project

News of a historic portion of Walnut Street’s inclusion in the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s plan for the widening of Russ Avenue in Waynesville went over with property owners like a ton of the bricks in Charles McDarris’ 90-something year old retaining wall.

McDarris owns the properties at 28 and 52 Walnut Street, both of which feature extensive historic pedigrees, painstaking renovations and restrictive covenants designed to preserve the period character of the structures, which date to the early 1900s.

Like any reasonable property owner, McDarris wants to know how NCDOT’s proposal will affect him, but he says he can’t seem to get a straight answer.

Russ Avenue DOT Project U-5839 mostly addresses projected traffic growth on Russ Avenue through the year 2040 from the Great Smoky Mountain Expressway to the railroad bridge at Walnut Street. Instead of stopping there, however, the project terminates at North Main Street, where traffic growth is projected by DOT to grow little.

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(Smoky Mountain News, 1/4/2016)