The N.C. Department of Transportation Traffic Mobility and Safety Unit will conduct a speed and safety study of a recently widened mountainous stretch of U.S. 321 between Blowing Rock and Lenoir. Area N.C. Board of Transportation members Robert Collier of Statesville and Sam Halsey of Jefferson have requested the study be expedited.
Members of the community have expressed concerns that when U.S. 321 was widened from two to four lanes, the speed limit was lowered from 55 miles per hour to the current 50 mph to meet the design speed of the project. According to State Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy, NCDOT will conduct speed studies along the road, as well as examine crash data from the State Highway Patrol.
“This 6.6-mile second of road has 28 curves,” Lacy said. “Now that the project is complete, we’ll reexamine the road with the latest speed and safety data based on current drivers. If the results indicate a change is warranted, we will make that change.”
Most people traveled slower than the 55 mph speed limit on the two-lane road due to the winding, narrow alignment. The $63.4 million widening project added two travel lanes, retaining walls, and curbs and gutters.