Travelers between Sylva and Dillsboro who would like to avoid traffic will soon have a means to walk instead of drive. On July 12, a recently approved construction project began on a sidewalk that will connect the two towns.
The sidewalk project had been discussed for years but ran into problems because of property rights along the road. The town of Sylva had to get approval from those property owners for an easement along the road, Highway 107, to build the sidewalk. Adrienne Isenhower, Town manager of Sylva said, “There were problems obtaining rights of entry from property owners along the area the sidewalk is to be built.”
Safety also played a role in this project. The Mayor of Sylva, Maurice Moody said, “The sidewalk will be a tremendous benefit for Sylva and Dillsboro and will make it a more walkable area.” According to Moody, the road that was in place between Sylva and Dillsboro had a narrow shoulder and adding sidewalk for the residents that use it will benefit both communities.
Mayor Moody is also proud of the health benefits that walking will provide to others. The road, he says, will “encourage others to walk.” He added that seeing the project initiated after so many years was, “very satisfying.”
Isenhower echoed Mayor Moody’s sentiments, saying that “It feels great to actually see construction began after such a long process. It will be nice to see the finished project and see people accessing the new facility.”
According to Isenhower, construction should be finished on the sidewalk by the fall season. For one Western Carolina University student, though, it’s not that important.
Sam Clinton, an avid biker says, “I wouldn’t [use] it often, but other people might,” and added, “Most WCU students will drive their cars or use Jackson County Public Transit or get a ride with their friends.”
Another WCU student sees it differently. Sarah Schultz, a construction management major, thinks walking from Sylva to Dillsboro is a good idea.
“I think the idea of walking from Sylva to Dillsboro is a productive one. Where many people would use not having a sidewalk as a reason not to walk, now they have no excuse. I will definitely use it.”
Schultz adds, however, that the construction on the sidewalk may cause traffic problems.
“As a senior in the constructions management department at WCU, I realize that due to the already slow and congested road, construction is likely to cause a greater delay to traffic in the area.”
The cost to build the sidewalk is minimal according to Isenhower and is coming from a tourism fund.