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WHAT’S GOING ON? With The Retaining Walls Along The U.S. 321 Widening Project in Blowing Rock

Concrete for the retaining wall cures in the rubber membrane mold. Photo by Ken Ketchie

August 23, 2013. The U.S. 321 widening project in Blowing Rock continues on through a wet and foggy summer.

The project is “within schedule,” Chris Byers, project manager, said.

As of recently, the contractor Maymead Inc. is pouring concrete for the retaining walls.

A view from the top of the wall looking toward U.S. 321 South. Photo by Ken Ketchie

The process began when Maymead of Mountain City, Tenn., built up the cut walls in five-foot increments to act as a base for the veneer work.

First holes are drilled into the side of the slope, Byers said, explaining the process of installing the cut wall.

Next, large metal rods called soil nails are inserted into the slope, which is then filled with grout and bolted. Shotcrete, concrete that is pumped with compressed air, is sprayed through a hose on to the wall to keep the material up.

The Shotcrete on average takes a day to cure, Byers said. Once it is cured the forming begins.  The retaining wall is set with a massive rubber membrane mold, which is then filled with concrete and cured for three days.

Once the mold is removed and the concrete is dry, the surface will be cleaned with pressure washers and stained to give it the appearance of natural rock, Byers, said.    

The current construction in Blowing Rock, the road widening, is in its third phase: spanning from Blackberry Road in Caldwell County to Possum Hollow, Kevin Rothrock, director of planning and inspection in Blowing Rock, said.

He added that the retaining wall and sidewalks will follow U.S. 321 S., from Green Park Inn to the Shoppes on the Parkway.

Taylor & Murphy Construction Company of Asheville originally won the bid for the $66 million road-widening contract.  However, bankruptcy forced the company off the contract.  Maymead took over in early spring of this year.

The project is scheduled to be completed on June 30, 2016, Rothrock said.


Cut wall that has not been covered with the natural rock cast. Photo by Ken Ketchie


The rubber membrane used for forming in front of a piece of cut wall. Photo by Ken Ketchie


A view of the cut wall, finished rock cast and a section that is in the process of forming to create the natural rock look. Photo by Ken Ketchie


The natural rock looking veneer. This will be pressure washed then stained. Photo by Ken Ketchie