For many years, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has been working on a series of improvements to N.C. Highway 143, collectively known as the Corridor K Project. Completion of the project, however, has been halted for decades along the stretch of N.C. 143 between Andrews and Stecoah Gap due to environmental impact concerns. But in 2019, planning resumed, and a design for the corridor—which includes a proposed wildlife crossing at Stecoah Gap—was recently approved.
The planned overpass and land bridge will provide safe passage across the highway for many animal species, protecting wildlife while also decreasing human risk for vehicle collisions involving wildlife in the area. Not only will it make the area safer for animals and motorists, the land bridge will also allow for the relocation of part of the Appalachian Trail to provide hikers with a safe way to cross N.C. 143.
This will not be the first wildlife connectivity project to be implemented on N.C. 143, however. In 2013, NCDOT put up modified telephone poles alongside the highway in Graham County to assist endangered Carolina northern flying squirrels in crossing the road. This project was successful in connecting both sides of the highway and expanding the squirrels’ territory in the area.