Beaucatcher Cut: A Legend, a Lesson, a Legacy
It is a mark of the legendary status of the Beaucatcher Cut--the huge rock-blasted segment of I-240 through Beaucatcher Mountain--that one can say, "the Cut," and people know what you're talking about. A third of a century after the project had begun, it remains significant. There are few events that have made such a visual impact on our consciousness; and, at the same time, that represent how political forces in this region work.
So, we revisit the Cut.
See articles on the cut by clicking attachments below.
I--and I hope you all--will be adding to this account over the next few days. I am very much involved in research now. To start with, here are few key dates and facts.
: N.C. Highway Commission proposes building 3.3 mile highway connector from the Downtown Expressway to I-40.
: The Highway Commission recommends a cut over a tunnel solution, which would remove one-twentieth as much rock as a cut.
: The U.S. Dept. of the Interior reverses its strong support of a tunnel solution, based on the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act, and gives a go-ahead to the open cut.
: Asheville Contracting Co. receives the contracts for all parts of the project. Baxter Taylor, company president, reveals that he was able to underbid other companies on mountain removal because he owned the highway right of way and the nearby dumping sites for rock removal.
: The state estimated that the cut would yield over two million cubic yards of rock, which, if crushed for roadbeds, would be worth $20 million at 1976 prices.
Oct. 31, 1976
: 1,000 people show up for rally and shindig to save Beaucatcher Mountain.
: Betty Lawrence Betz writes Mike Wallace of CBS, saying, "More than any other [feature], Beaucatcher Mountain contributes to what I feel is the major charm of Asheville—its feeling of being surrounded by mountains.”
Mar. 14, 1977
: Zealandia, the historic estate and mansion located 500 feet from the edge of the cut, is placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
: Despite a renewed legal effort based on the requirement to review impacts on historic sites, blasting proceeds.