ASHEVILLE -Visitors coming to Blowing Rock to see the spring blooms won't have to wait for the booms.
"Blasting operations on U.S. 321 for the most part are complete," says Caprice Cheek, engineering technician with the N.C. Department of Transportation. "We could have some small blasts, but we don't anticipate any road closures for the remainder of this work. The mountain has never been closed. All road closures to date have allowed us to detour traffic through downtown Blowing Rock."
The project includes building additional through and turning lanes, and straightening curves to make travel safer. While travelers are likely to see more workers along the roadside with warmer weather,
Cheek says always be alert and pay attention to posted speed limits. "Even when it's foggy or rainy, we're working where we can, installing utilities, drainage system structures, and constructing retaining walls." Drivers should also watch for traffic shifts, as grading and paving operations for the new roadway alignment continue.
Crews are also building an underground duct system for relocating electric, phone, and cable lines.
"A majority of overhead utilities are going underground from Green Park Inn to Tanger Outlets," says Cheek, "which will open up some beautiful views." New sidewalks will also make it easier and safer to walk and bike to shops and restaurants in downtown Blowing Rock. Crews also continue work on stone retaining walls. "This will really enhance the beauty of the area."
Construction is scheduled to be complete in 2016. For more information, call the project information line at 828-964-3260. You can also follow the project's progress with regular updates on Twitter using #US321.
For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit the Traveler Services section of the NCDOT website or follow NCDOT on Twitter. You can also access NCDOT Mobile, a version of the NCDOT website especially for mobile devices. Visit m.ncdot.gov from your mobile browser.