The North Carolina Department of Transportation is widening U.S. 321 from Blackberry Road (State Road 1500) in Caldwell County through Blowing Rock to the Tanger Outlet Center just north of U.S. 221 in Watauga County. Construction began in early 2012, with a contract scheduled completion date of June 30, 2016.
Improvements include building additional through lanes, turning lanes at selected locations and straightening curves to provide a safer road. The project will also enhance pedestrian connectivity from U.S. 321 to downtown Blowing Rock.
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 area south of the U.S. 321 Business intersection toward Lenoir.
The contractor will be allowed to work in both areas during the project.
U.S. 321 is considered a strategic corridor, which is a roadway system that provides essential connections to national transportation networks. This project’s purpose is to improve traffic flow, reduce congestion and reduce the number of vehicle crashes along U.S. 321 through Blowing Rock to Tanger Outlets/Possum Hollow Road.
Without these improvements, the forecasted traffic volume along this section of U.S. 321 will exceed the road’s capacity (and already does in some places). The number of crashes will likely rise along with the increase in traffic volume. Improvements would also increase sight distances by straightening curves, thereby providing a newer, safer road.
Early August 2015 – Traffic shift onto new pavement in two lanes in Area I. There will be challenges to provide business access along the left side of the project from August to December during this shift. However, special signs allowed by the Town Council will mark business access.
August to fall 2015 – Above traffic shift will allow for construction of additional underground duct bank (a conduit for underground utilities).
Late summer 2015 – Close and construct U.S. 321 Business South tie-in with detour; close and construct Ransom Street and Church Street tie-ins with detour.
Fall 2015 – Complete storm drainage and duct bank laterals on the left side under the existing U.S. 321; close and construct Sunset Drive tie-in with detour.
Late December 2015 – Traffic shift to one lane along the outside of the project in each direction. This will improve business access while the remaining work will be mostly in the median.
July 2016 – Construction in Area I will be mostly complete. Traffic will be in the final pattern with some finish work remaining, which will have minimal traffic impact.
Early Summer 2017 – Complete all work on the entire project (Areas I and II).
Division 11 Resident Engineer
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P.O. Box 1460
Boone, N.C. 28607
Resources for Local Property Owners
In many cases, it is inevitable that a certain amount of private property must be acquired. The displacement of homes and businesses is minimized to the extent practicable. The following brochures will answer questions about this process.