Update: US 321 Now Open; Earlier Logistical Nightmare for Winterfest With Rockslide Closure

Published Thursday, January 28, 2016 at 2:14 pm

Update at 2:30 p.m. NCDOT: Rock slide debris just south of Green Park Inn on #US321 in Blowing Rock has been cleared, travel lanes are open at this time.  Please call 828-964-3260 for additional information. 

By Jesse Wood

A rockslide that occurred just south of Green Park Inn on U.S. 321 in Blowing Rock has caused the indefinite closure of both lanes of travel on the highway. Fortunately, no one was injured.

The rockslide happened about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.

Caprice Cheek, an NCDOT engineering technician managing the U.S. 321 widening project hotline in Blowing Rock, said that there is no estimated road-opening time as of Thursday afternoon.

“We don’t have a timeframe on when that road is reopening,” Cheek said at 1 p.m. on Thursday.

Currently, traffic is being turned around. While folks familiar with the area can detour via Aho and Blackberry roads, Cheek said that her department doesn’t feel comfortable officially acknowledging that route as a current detour.

“The safest thing right now is turn folks around,” Cheek said.

If you are coming from Lenoir, that would require heading back to Lenoir and getting to Blowing Rock via Wilkesboro and Boone – and vice versa if you coming from Boone. Note that the Blue Ridge Parkway in this area is closed.

A bit later in the afternoon, Blowing Rock Chamber Director Charles Hardin said he just finished talking with NCDOT and Blowing Rock officials.

Hardin said that as of 1:30 p.m. the road is cleared of debris, but traffic isn’t being released until after a team of geotechnical engineers from Asheville determine whether or not the mountainside is stable enough for the public to travel under.

“That will take three hours from now until their decision,” Hardin said.

Hardin mentioned that a rockslide has occurred in the same place in the past.

Talk about poor timing. Blowing Rock’s annual Winterfest began today and runs through Sunday, Jan. 31.

“Our phone has been ringing off the hook,” Hardin said.

Hardin noted that this rockslide has caused a logistical nightmare. For one example, all of the ice for the ice carving exhibition at Winterfest is in the process of being delivered from Charlotte.

“They’ve been sitting out there for hours and the ice is melting,” Hardin said.

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