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
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 cities and towns (Hickory, Granite Falls, Sawmills, Hudson and Lenoir) and three counties (Catawba, Burke and Caldwell).

Project Highlights

The project's proposed design would involve widening 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 (sometimes 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.

The project design and anticipated impacts are described in the following documents:

This project is divided into sections, as described in the table below, in the current State Transportation Improvement Program.

Section Location Details
Section A U.S. 70 to U.S. 321A
  • Right of way – Spring 2019
  • Construction – Summer 2021
  • 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
  • Right of way – FY 2018
  • Construction – FY 2019
  • Section CB U.S. 321/Pine Mountain Road intersection
  • Right of way – FY 2018
  • Construction – FY 2019
  • Section CC U.S. 321/Mission Road intersection
  • Right of way – FY 2018
  • Construction – FY 2019
  • Recommended Design

    The N.C. Department of Transportation reviewed all comments received at public hearings on July 11-12, 2016, a public meeting on July 27, 2017, and a public meeting on Oct. 16, 2017. Based on the feedback as well as preliminary cost estimates and anticipated benefits and impacts, NCDOT recommends a six-lane superstreet.

    Multiple options were considered at several intersections and interchanges. NCDOT's recommended designs at these locations were shown at the October 2017 public meeting.

    A design revision in early 2018 made the following changes:

    • Minimized impacts along 1st and 2nd Avenues SW
    • Improved pedestrian connectivity at the U.S. 321/2nd Avenue SW interchange
    • Revised the connection at Dudley Shoals Road to minimize impacts to a historic resource
    • Modified side street connections near Alex Lee Boulevard to minimize impacts to a stream

    The recommended design is described below, and shown on the maps listed under "Project Documents" below.

    Crossing Recommended Design
    13th Street SW/2nd Avenue SW

    NCDOT recommends a half clover interchange at 2nd Avenue SW that:

    • Replaces the existing intersection at 13th Street SW and U.S. 321
    • Provides a direct connection from U.S. 321 to 1st and 2nd Avenues SW, which are primary routes through downtown Hickory

    A section of 1st and 2nd Avenues SW would be converted from one-way to two-way streets, which is consistent with the city of Hickory's long-term plan for the roadways.

    Clement Boulevard

    NCDOT recommends a superstreet intersection at this existing signalized intersection.

    Although NCDOT initially proposed an interchange, the most current traffic forecast no longer indicates a need for an interchange at this location. A superstreet intersection notably reduces property impacts to businesses.

    Grace Chapel Road

    NCDOT recommends a flyover bridge from Grace Chapel Road onto southbound U.S. 321 toward Hickory 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.

    NCDOT proposes a new connector road from Lake Shore Drive to Grace Chapel Road as part of this design.

    Alex Lee Boulevard NCDOT recommends a tight diamond interchange at Alex Lee Boulevard. As part of this design, a new road would connect Sage Meadow Circle, Midway Sand Road and the new interchange.
    Falls Avenue NCDOT recommends a tight diamond interchange at Falls Avenue.

    Project History

    February 2016: Environmental Assessment Approved

    The Environmental Assessment was approved in February 2016 and is available for review (44MB).

    April 2018: Finding of No Significant Impact Approved

    The Finding of No Significant Impact was approved in April 2018 and is available for review (13.6MB).

    July 2016 Public Hearings

    NCDOT held public hearings July 11-12, 2016, in Hickory and Lenoir about the environmental assessment.

    July 27, 2017 Public Meeting

    NCDOT held an open house public meeting in Hickory on July 27, 2017, to present maps of updated designs for Sections A and B. No new information was available for the remainder of Section C (Mission Road to Southwest Boulevard).

    Oct. 12, 2017 Public Meeting

    NCDOT held an open house public meeting in Caldwell County on Oct. 12 2017, to present maps of NCDOT's recommended alternative.

    Project Documents

    February 2018 Design Maps


    October 2017 Public Meeting Materials

    July 2017 Public Hearing Materials

    July 2016 Public Hearing Materials

    Contact Information

    Bryan Sowell
    Highway Division 12
    Project Development Engineer
    (980) 552-4221
    Send a message
    P.O. Box 47
    Shelby, NC 28151-0047

    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.