SPRUCE PINE – The fresh paint has dried, the new riding surface has been placed, and now the traffic barrels have been removed from construction zones on a major highway in Mitchell and Yancey counties.
The project is complete.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials announced the completion of a major project to widen eight miles of U.S. 19E from its intersection with N.C. 80 in Yancey County to the multi-lane section of highway just west of Spruce Pine in Mitchell County.
The end result is an improved transportation network in the mountains of Division 13. Trucks and tourists can now cruise on four lanes from Interstate 26 in Madison County, through all of Yancey County and into Spruce Pine. Long-range plans for U.S. 19E include extending four lane sections east of Spruce Pine and into Avery County.
“We are very happy to complete a major project that will bring major benefits to residents and businesses in Yancey and Mitchell counties,” Division 13 Engineer Mark Gibbs said. “Tourism, other local industries and local residents will all benefit from the economic opportunities provided by the new highway.”
The project completely transformed the old two-lane roadway. The eastbound and westbound lanes are divided by a grassed median matching the first 21 miles from Interstate 26 in Madison County. Additional drainage, guardrail, design improvements to the alignment of the roadway, signage and pavement markings bring the highway up to modern safety standards.
Crews also built six new bridges, six new box culverts and seven retaining walls. They also built 14 bulb-out turnarounds for additional safety and mobility. Wright Brothers Construction completed the $64.9 million project in less than six years.
“This is a project that is going to make traveling a lot safer and a lot easier in our northern mountains,” Division 13 Construction Engineer Randy McKinney said. “Folks will be able to get to work, school and leisure activities quicker, easier and safer than ever.”