By Jesse Wood
With the goal of finishing before winter hits, road construction crews are steadily making their way south as the U.S. 321 widening project continues through Blowing Rock.
Currently, flagging operations and road closures associated with the construction are taking place from Cone Orchard Lane to Green Hill Road, and additional flagging operations might occur near Pinnacle Drive, according to the latest “traffic impact” update from the NCDOT on Wednesday morning.
NCDOT District Supervisor Doug Eller said he’s hopeful that another section of U.S. 421 will open to four lanes in a couple of weeks.
“Right now, we have four lanes from Tanger to South 321 Business, and hopefully in the next couple weeks, we’ll shave another section open from there to Green Park Inn,” Eller said, adding that work will continue on the south end of the job with “a couple more retaining walls” left to build.
Eller said that once another section of road is open to four lanes, they’ll conduct a review of the project to see whether or not it would be prudent to put down the final inch of asphalt in sections or wait to do the final layer of asphalt across the entire stretch of the U.S. 321 project in Blowing Rock – from Blackberry Road to the Tanger Outlets.
The work is currently concentrated on the south end of the project. As Eller said, “Everything in town is – with the exception of the final inch – is basically complete. A few odds and ends need to be wrapped up. Everything from town, from Tanger to South 321 Business is pretty much complete.”
While not a part of the U.S. 321 widening project, the installation of the intersection lighting should begin soon. To be clear, the conduit for the streetlights and pedestrian lighting was part of the design of the project, but the Town of Blowing Rock is working with Blue Ridge Energy on the actual installation.
“I had conversations with them last week, and they are expecting delivery of the intersection lighting – not the pedestrian lighting – poles and lights in the next couple weeks. So once they get those, I anticipate the beginning of installation of those lights upon delivery of materials,” Eller said.
This four-mile project, which includes underground utilities and numerous aesthetic rock walls, has been ongoing for several years since the contract was originally awarded in late 2011 to Taylor and Murphy Construction.
After that company declared bankruptcy in the middle of the project, Maymead was awarded the contract to finish the road construction on March 2013. Hitting rock and adverse weather have also caused delays, and Maymead has requested multiple extensions since taking over.
“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.”
For more information about the U.S. 321 widening project, click here.
Looking south, the U.S. 321 intersection across from Samaritan’s Purse Training and Conference Center.
This photo depicts that final inch of asphalt that will complete the project and tie the curb and gutter to the highway.
Looking toward Boone from near Papa Joe’s restaurant
Looking south to where the Blowing Rock Furniture Gallery is located, the four-lane highway is still two-ways from here to Blackberry Road, where the U.S. 321 widening project through Blowing Rock ends.
This photo was shot in between Blowing Rock Furniture Gallery and Canyons Restaurant.
The U.S. 321 intersection at Norwood Circle.
Looking toward Green Park Inn at Norwood Circle.
Retaining wall near Norwood Circle and across from Canyons.
Retaining wall finished at Canyons
Intersection at Canyons completed.
Across from the Blowing Rock Country Club looking toward Canyons.
Looking at the Green Park Inn and the retaining wall by the golf course. Notice the sidewalks are complete.
The Green Park Inn
Across from the Green Park Inn, you can see the last stretch of curb and gutter that needs to be complete.
Crews are working on the concrete forms for the sidewalks as the cement truck follows behind.