Project Maps
Project Map
Project Fast Facts
  • Status: Projects Under Development
  • County: Catawba, Caldwell, Burke
  • Type of Project: Widening
  • STIP Number: U-4700
  • Estimated Cost: $288.3 million
  • Property Acquisition Start: FY 2018
  • Start Date: FY 2020
Photos & Videos

U.S. 321 Widening Public Meeting Presentation – October 2017

US321 Widening

Project Overview and Purpose

Several segments of road as well as a majority of intersections along U.S. 321 between Hickory and Lenoir are experiencing congestion, and travel demands are not being satisfied in the area. These conditions are expected to worsen as traffic volumes increase in the next 20 years.

To reduce congestion, the N.C. Department of Transportation plans to widen U.S. 321 in this area to six lanes.

Extending 13.9 miles – from just north of U.S. 70 in Hickory to Southwest Boulevard in Lenoir – the proposed project crosses through five municipalities– Hickory, Granite Falls, Sawmills, Hudson and Lenoir – and three counties –Catawba, Burke and Caldwell.

Project Highlights

Based on an environmental assessment (44MB) approved in February 2016, the project's proposed design would widen 13.9 miles of U.S. 321 to a six-lane divided road. For most of the length, it would have a 30-foot raised grass median.

A superstreet (also referred to as a Synchronized Street) would be used along U.S. 321. All at-grade intersections and driveways would be right-in/right-out only. Drivers would turn right and use new U-turn areas to travel in the desired direction.

This project is divided into four sections in the current State Transportation Improvement Program:

  • Section A – U.S. 70 to U.S. 321A
  • Section B – U.S. 321A to Mission Road (currently unfunded)
  • Section C – Mission Road to Southwest Boulevard (currently unfunded)
  • Section CA – U.S. 321/Mount Herman Road intersection

Recommended Design

The N.C. Department of Transportation reviewed all comments received at public hearings on July 11-12, 2016, and at a public meeting on July 27, 2017, an updated traffic forecast and other input and presented the recommended design (referred to as an alternative) for the corridor at a public meeting on Oct. 12, 2017.

The recommended alternative is the same as the alternative presented at the July 27 public meeting except:

  • Grace Chapel Road: A flyover bridge would allow drivers traveling from Grace Chapel Road to access U.S. 321 southbound toward Hickory directly, with a Synchronized Street intersection serving the other movements.

    With this design, drivers would be allowed to make a right turn from U.S. 321 northbound onto Grace Chapel Road and from Grace Chapel Road onto northbound U.S. 321. Vehicles traveling south on U.S. 321 from Lenoir would use a U-turn bulb to turn onto Grace Chapel Road.

  • Alex Lee Boulevard: A tight diamond interchange with on- and off-ramps to U.S. 321 in the northbound and southbound directions is proposed at Alex Lee Boulevard. (This design reduces the need for the large looped ramp previously shown.)

The following provides more detail about the recommendations at the major crossings on the corridor.

Crossing Proposed Design
2nd Avenue SW New interchange
13th Street SW
  • Convert existing interchange into a Synchronized Street intersection.
  • Convert a segment of 1st Avenue SW and 2nd Avenue SW from one-way to two-way streets
Clement Boulevard Superstreet intersection
Grace Chapel Road Flyover bridge from Grace Chapel Road to U.S. 321 southbound toward Hickory, with a superstreet intersection serving the other movements
Alex Lee Boulevard/MDI Tight diamond interchange
Falls Avenue Tight diamond interchange

Project History

February 2016: Environmental Assessment Approved

The Environmental Assessment was approved in February 2016 and is available for review (44MB). The final environmental document, anticipated to be a Finding of No Significant Impact, will be prepared in late 2017 or early 2018.

July 2016 Public Hearings

NCDOT held public hearings July 11-12, 2016, in Hickory and Lenoir about the environmental assessment. In addition to commenting at the events, the public was able to submit feedback during a comment period that ended Aug. 15, 2016. All comments were reviewed by the NCDOT project team.

July 27, 2017 Public Meeting

NCDOT held an open house public meeting in Hickory on July 27 to present maps of updated designs for Sections A and B (linked below). No new information was available for the remainder of Section C (Mission Road to Southwest Boulevard).

In addition, the 2016 design options for the Grace Chapel Road and Falls Avenue crossing, which were presented at the July 2016 public hearings, were also on display.

Grace Chapel Road Crossing – 2016 Design (9MB)

Since the July 2016 public hearing, NCDOT developed a new concept at the Grace Chapel Road crossing that is based on both an updated traffic forecast and public input. The new design is included on the revised Section A map linked above. A preferred option between the four designs will be selected after the July 2017 public meeting.

Falls Avenue Crossing – 2016 Design (15MB)

Public Involvement

NCDOT held a public meeting on Oct. 12, 2017, in Lenoir to present the recommended design for the project. The materials and maps presented at the meeting are available below for review:

Meeting Presentation

Meeting Materials

Meeting Maps

NCDOT is seeking comments on the project until Nov. 9, 2017. Comments can be submitted online or by mail at the address below:

Diane Wilson
Senior Public Involvement Officer
1598 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1598

Project Documents

October 2017 Public Meeting Materials

July 2017 Public Hearing Materials

July 2016 Public Hearing Materials

Contact Information

Diane Wilson
Senior Public Involvement Officer
(919) 707-6073
Send a message
1598 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1598


Eugene Tarascio
Project Development Engineer
(919) 707-6046
Send a message

Resources for Local Property Owners

Although the N.C. Department of Transportation works to minimize the number of homes and businesses displaced by a road project, it is inevitable, in many cases, that a certain amount of private property is needed. The following information explains right of way acquisition and answers questions about the process.