I am Jo Allen, president of Meredith College, the largest private property entity affected by this project.
Let me be clear. We do not believe the Environmental Assessment even remotely captures the near- and long-term impacts to Meredith College and our almost 100-year old campus.
Throughout its history, Meredith has been a good partner, good citizen, and good neighbor. But the human, educational, and environmental effects of this project will significantly impact Meredith College’s ability to thrive and grow for the next 100 years.
Previous transportation projects plus this one will result in a total of almost one-fifth of Meredith’s historic campus being taken over the years. I can think of no other college (or university) that would be silent on losing this much land. Meredith has given enough.
Education at Meredith College is an on-campus experience. For past projects, NCDOT tried to minimize the impacts to Meredith’s campus. However, no other project has ever simultaneously taken campus land, *and* inserted high-volume and high-speed infrastructure, lights, and noise directly onto our college campus.
This project will do all of that and forever change the character of our campus.
Other than stating that right-of-way will be taken, the Environmental Assessment fails miserably to address the impacts to the college and her students from the highway, its concomitant expressways, ramps, berms, bridges and flyovers. It does not even mention the effects of the proposed 100-foot tall lighting masts along the entire western side of our campus.
The report fails to speak to the visual impacts of highway infrastructure and flyover bridges that will loom four to five stories over the campus. The plan will significantly compromise our ability to continue growing in a manner consistent with the college’s 126-year mission and campus master plan – a state-recognized Designed Historic Landscape – that we have followed for over 50 years.
We will lose the very best sites for future classroom buildings, residence halls, and athletic facilities, as well as impact current offerings for high quality instruction, research, residential living, and commuter service.
Meredith College, our 2,000 students, 500 faculty/ staff, and 21,000 living alumnae cannot well endure additional blows to our campus and are rightfully agitated.
We implore NCDOT and FHWA to investigate additional design alternatives and methods to reduce the footprint and IMPACT of this project.
Remarks delivered by President Jo Allen during public hearing on August 8, 2017