Fontana Dam - North Shore Road Controversy

North Shore Road Controversy

The construction of Fontana Dam led to the flooding of most of North Carolina Highway 288, which connected Deals Gap and Bryson City. The National Park Service, after gaining possession of Fontana's north shore tracts, reached an agreement with Swain County to replace the north shore road in the 1940s. By 1972, however, environmental concerns and funding issues had continuously stalled construction, and just 7.2 miles (11.6 km) of the road had been completed (just outside of Bryson City). In the 1970s, environmental concerns completely halted the road's progress, and locals nicknamed the unfinished 7.2-mile (11.6 km) road "The Road to Nowhere". After North Carolina's U.S. Senator Jesse Helms secured funding for the road in 2000, the park service conducted an environmental impact study (released in 2007) and concluded that the road's construction would cause "major, adverse, long-term impacts to topography, geology, and soils" in the area. Proponents of the road argued that the environmental concerns were exaggerated. In 2007, Swain County accepted a $52 million cash settlement from the park service, and agreed to drop its demand for a new road along the North Shore.

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