August. The month when the final remnants of noticeable summer visitor traffic can be found on a daily basis around Boone. The month when the annual influx of traffic due to Appalachian State students returning impacts travel around Boone. The month when local public schools start back impacting weekday traffic county wide.
So what makes August 2016 any different than before? A couple of new, or about to be complete, construction items will have more of an impact on the motoring public than in previous years, of course some to varying degrees.
First the big one. Work began in mid July on a new traffic signal intersection on Blowing Rock Road near the Post Office. The intersection will serve as access to Postal Street, along with access to the new Publix Grocery (in the former Kmart location), the US Postal Service, Cracker Barrel and other existing business. Southbound traffic, for now, is reduced to one lane leading to extended travel time and congestion in that area. The work is expected to be complete by the end of September.
The second project of note is The Standard of Boone complex. Originally planned to open in August, it’s been announced that the complex has now pushed back the expected opening dates to October. The multi use complex has a total of 561 beds, with more than 500 people already signing leases according to one report. Traffic entrances from both Blowing Rock Road and Faculty Street lead into the project. At times a southbound portion of Blowing Rock Road has been narrowed to one lane as needed for construction operations. This could be the case again until the project is totally complete.
The third project involves traffic on highway 105 in Boone. When the new location for Greystone Eye is complete, located beside the Speedway gas station, it will be of note the increased traffic making both left and right hand turns onto 105. A completion date is not known as of the posting of this article. And on a side note – heavy traffic congestion has taken place in that area this week due to sidewalk/driveway construction. Located across the road, The Highland Commons Shopping Center area is one of the more frequent accident prone locations on 105. When a wreck is noted in that area, social media users frequently comment on the Watauga Roads & Weather Facebook page about the dangers of turning left out of the shopping center.
All of the above projects will impact traffic for the month and beyond as Boone continues to see more traffic each year, or at least that’s the way it feels at times. As always, allow extra time and patience.