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WHAT’S GOING ON? With Trench Work in Front of Tanger Outlets, Part of US 321 Widening

Because of the solid granite in this particular area, crews have struggled with the trench work in front of the Tanger Outlets. Photo by Ken Ketchie


By Jesse Wood

If you drive through Blowing Rock frequently, you might have noticed road construction crews have been digging in one particular spot near the Shoppes on the Parkway multiple times after it looks like the work had already been completed and the trench covered.

Well, there is a reason for that says N.C. Department of Transportation Engineering Technician Caprice Cheek.

The roadwork being conducted is for water and sewer line placement along the scope of the U.S. 321 widening project, and as Cheek said, “If anyone stopped and looked in [that particular] trench, it’s solid granite.”

Cheek said that crews were struggling with the trench because it was too close to other structures to blast. That and the weather caused delays in finishing this area.

So whenever they are at a stopping point, Cheeks said that the crews would fill the hole with the material that was excavated and cover with some kind of board. Then when work would resume, it would start digging and excavating the rock again.

“There’s nothing wrong. It’s just one of those difficult locations to work around here in Blowing Rock,” Cheek said. “It’s been part of the project from the beginning and is apart of the new water and sewer connections [for the Town of Blowing Rock] being done throughout the project.”

Along with the construction of at least 10 retaining walls in the core Blowing Rock stretch of U.S. 321, the other major construction components of the project is all of the underground utility work.

Last month, Kipp Turner, staff engineer with the contractor Maymead Inc., said that work between Blackberry Road and the Tanger Outlets should be completed by the summer of 2016 while the town section from Canyons to the Tanger Outlets should be finished this year.

Turner said that crews are looking to complete through town what they call the “right side” of the road – as if you are driving from Lenoir to Boone – this summer.

Once the sewer line installation, drainage, grading, asphalt and curb-and-gutter work is complete, Maymead Inc. will switch sides and start on the remainder of the underground utility work on the opposite side of the road.