By Jesse Wood
Forget this week. The new tentative date for putting down the final asphalt layer through the town section of the U.S. 321 widening project in Blowing Rock is now the week of Aug. 7.
Blowing Rock Town Manager Ed Evans said that Maymead officials gave the town its latest construction update on Tuesday morning. Evans said that Maymead is currently working a punch list of repairs on concrete sidewalks and curbs, asphalt milling and leveling, etc.
“They will likely finish those by next Friday, Aug. 4. If they meet that schedule, it looks like final asphalt layer will be scheduled for the week of Aug. 7,” Evans noted in an email.
Currently, flagging operations/lane closures are scheduled at various locations from Rocky Knob Road to the Tanger Outlets in Blowing Rock, according to the latest U.S. 321 traffic impact report issued by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The entire four-mile project stretches from Blackberry Road in Caldwell County to the Tanger Outlets, adjacent to downtown Blowing Rock.
The project is divided into two areas. Area 1 is more of the commercial area from U.S. 321 Business/South Main Street toward Boone, while Area 2 is the more rural stretch of highway from U.S. 321 Business/South Main Street toward Lenoir.
After paving is completed hopefully early next month, the section from Tanger Outlets to the Green Park Inn will be all but finished, but there is still plenty of work to do past south of the Green Park Inn.
Speaking earlier this month, NCDOT District Supervisor Doug Eller stated that the goal was to finish the entire project before winter hits the High Country.
“We’re making really good progress right now and getting a lot done,” Eller said. “We are still targeting the end of 2017. Our goal is to try to hit completion before winter.”
This project is now in its sixth year. Taylor and Murphy Construction was originally awarded the contract for this widening project in late 2011. However, the company went bankrupt soon thereafter, and in early 2013, Maymead was awarded the contract to takeover and finish the project. The contract for the entire project is $66.4 million.
See photos taken earlier this month along U.S. 321 in Blowing Rock here.