Pastor: NCDOT road project could close Flat Rock church

Some Flat Rock residents are concerned about a North Carolina Department of Transportation road-widening project on North Highland Lake Road. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Some Flat Rock residents are concerned about a North Carolina Department of Transportation road-widening project on North Highland Lake Road.

The NCDOT plans to widen the 11-foot lanes to 14 feet. According to a question-and-answer page released by the village of Flat Rock, travel lanes near Highland Park Road and Highland Lake Drive will be 14 feet wide with a 12-14 foot left turning lane.

On the park side of the road, there would be a 4-foot-wide grass buffer and a 10-foot-wide multi-use walking and bicycle path.

The addition of curbs and gutters is still being debated.

Rhett Carson, pastor of Pinecrest Presbyterian Church, said if the NCDOT goes through with it's current plans, the church will lose trees, a row of parking spaces and its front turn-around area.

"The grass area beyond the awning is where our septic field is located. So, if they are paving it or doing any adjustments there, it could lead to failure of our septic system and close down the church permanently," Carson said.

He said the front is the only handicap-accessible entrance.

"We have 225 members, and most are in the elderly bracket. So, they really do take advantage of this handicap side. To make it more difficult for them to get into the church is wrong to do. We know that's not their intent, but it is the effect of this plan, " Carson said.

The NCDOT estimates 6,400 cars travel on the road daily, and that by 2040 that number will increase to 9,700.

From 2011-16, there were 91 reported vehicle crashes along North Highland Lake Road, and 21 of those resulted in injuries.

If the roadway is not widened and improved, the NCDOT thinks the number of wrecks in the area will increase.

To view the village of Flat Rock's response on the project, click here.

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