U.S. 321 widening 15 percent complete
by Anna Oakes
The widening of U.S. 321 through Blowing Rock is about 15 percent complete, said Doug Eller, N.C. Department of Transportation resident engineer.
NCDOT is widening U.S. 321 from Blackberry Road in Caldwell County through Blowing Rock to the Shoppes on the Parkway shopping center in Watauga County from two lanes to four lanes, with turning lanes at selected locations.
Construction began in early 2012. Although the project is "a little bit behind schedule," the contractor is still working toward the scheduled completion date of Oct. 1, 2015, Eller said.
Area I -- the more commercial section of the project between U.S. 321 Business (Main Street) and Shoppes on the Parkway -- is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 27, 2014.
A $66.4 million contract for the project was awarded to Taylor and Murphy Construction Co. of Asheville in December 2011.
The contractor will continue to close sections of the highway for blasting as weather permits throughout the winter.
"There's still quite a bit of blasting to be done," Eller said.
Closures are permitted on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. During those times, most traffic may use Main Street as a detour, but trucks are required to travel U.S. 421 and N.C. 18.
When blasting occurs in Area II -- the area between U.S. 321 Business and Blackberry Road -- all traffic will be required to use the U.S. 421 and N.C. 18 detour.
For more information, visit http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/blowingrock321.