Preconstruction Work Progresses on U.S. 321 Widening Project

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The U.S. 321 widening project in Blowing Rock will take the next step in the preconstruction process on Monday, Jan. 16, weather permitting.

Crews from project contractor Taylor and Murphy of Asheville will inspect buildings near potential blasting areas and place construction signs in place along the route.

A project kickoff meeting will take place at The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum conference room on Monday, Jan. 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. This meeting will allow residents to speak with the contractor and others about the project, including blasting, traffic control and communications, as well as view the project map in an informal setting.

The $66.4 million project will widen about 4 miles of U.S. 321 through Blowing Rock from two to four lanes from Blackberry Road south of Blowing Rock to the Shoppes on the Parkway shopping center near U.S. 221. Improvements include additional through lanes, turn lanes new lighting and new retaining walls at selected locations. The project will also increase sight distances by straightening curves.

The project will be divided into two areas. Area I is the more commercial area north of the U.S. 321 Business intersection toward Boone. Area II is the more rural/residential area south of the U.S. 321 Business intersection toward Lenoir. The contractor may be working in both areas simultaneously They will be required to open all lanes to traffic in Area I first. The entire project is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 1, 2015.

During construction, the contractor can close sections of U.S. 321 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for blasting. In addition, the contractor can close the road either Monday or Wednesday nights from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. for blasting.

Construction times will be restricted during holidays, Appalachian State University home football games, fall foliage weekends and Blowing Rock special events.

Depending on the location of the closure, the following signed detours will be in place:

Area I: U.S. 321 Business through Blowing Rock to U.S. 221.

Area II: N.C. 18 to Wilkesboro to U.S. 421 North to Boone to U.S. 321 to Blowing Rock.

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