Next Major Traffic Shift for U.S. Highway 321 Widening Project in Blowing Rock Underway

Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 at 5:14 pm
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Depicted above U.S. 321 near Food Lion, another traffic shift took place in Blowing Rock on Tuesday. Photos by Ken Ketchie

Another major step forward on the U.S. 321 widening project in Blowing Rock takes place today. A traffic shift being phased in through the day will put drivers onto the outside lane in both directions between Tanger Outlets and near U.S. 321 Business/South Main Street.

The traffic pattern change will allow the contractor to close off the median and inside lanes in both directions in order to safely continue construction on the median, including the designated crossovers, and the remaining median curbs and gutters.

As part of this phase, a temporary right in/right out-only traffic pattern will be established at the intersection at Little Springs Road. Southbound drivers wishing to turn left into Little Springs Road will need to travel south towards Samaritan’s Purse where U-turns will be allowed, and then travel back to Little Springs Road. Motorists wanting to turn left when exiting Little Springs Road will instead need to turn right, travel north to U.S. 221/U.S. 321 Business/Main Street where U-turns are allowed, and then continue southward. This temporary right in/right out-only pattern is anticipated to last about two weeks.

unnamed-4The following locations on the U.S. 321 widening project are designated crossovers: Tanger Outlets (signalized); U.S. 221/321 Business/Main Street near Chetola (signalized); Samaritan’s Purse; Sunset Drive (signalized); Church Street; Ransom Street; U.S. 321 Business/South Main Street. Requiring drivers to initially turn right, then travel to a designated crossover before turning left improves safety by helping reduce side impact collisions as well as improving traffic flow through the area. Once the temporary traffic pattern at Little Springs Road is no longer needed, southbound left turns, as well as left turns when exiting Little Springs Road and U-turns will all be allowed at this location as well.

Due to these new traffic patterns, motorists should initially plan to need extra time to get to their destination while everyone adjusts to the changes. Drivers are also urged to use extreme caution while traveling through the work zone for their own safety, as well as their passengers, travelers in other vehicles, and for the construction crews working close to the roadway.

The $66-million project is widening U.S. 321 from Blackberry Road in Caldwell County through Blowing Rock to the Tanger Outlet Center just north of U.S. 221 in Watauga County. Upgrades include building additional through lanes, adding turning lanes at selected locations and straightening curves to provide a safer road. The project will also enhance pedestrian connectivity from U.S. 321 to downtown Blowing Rock.

When the Blowing Rock portion of the project is substantially completed, which is projected to be this summer, these improvements will increase the roadway’s vehicle capacity. That will make the road safer by improving traffic flow and reducing traffic congestion.

For more details or assistance, call the project information line at828-964-3260.

For real-time travel information, call 511, visit the Traveler Services section of NCDOT.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.

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