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.
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) design 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
Based on an updated traffic forecast along with public comments received at the July 2016 public hearings, NCDOT evaluated several new design concepts.
The following changes are proposed to the design and will be presented at a public meeting on July 27, 2017:
- An interchange at Alex Lee Boulevard, next to MDI (previously proposed as a superstreet intersection)
- A superstreet intersection at Grace Chapel Road (previously proposed as an interchange)
- A superstreet intersection at Clement Boulevard (previously proposed as an interchange)
- Improving 12th Street Drive NW to better accommodate large trucks
- Modifying the intersection of Dudley Shoals Avenue to allow a direct connection from U.S. 321 to Dudley Shoals Avenue
- Shifting the proposed 13th Street SW interchange to be located at 2nd Avenue SW
- Converting a segment of 1st Avenue SW and 2nd Avenue SW from one-way to two-way
- Adding a left-over at Corbin Lane
- Additional U-turn bulb locations
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 summer 2017.
July 27, 2017 Public Meeting
NCDOT held an open house public meeting on July 27 from 4-7 p.m. at the Western Piedmont Council of Governments offices, 1880 2nd Avenue NW, Hickory.
Maps of the updated designs for Sections A and B (linked below) were shown at the public meeting. 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)
A preferred option will be selected after the July 2017 public meeting.
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.
|Environmental Assessment approved
|Preferred Alternative selected
|Final environmental document
|Final designs completed
|U.S. 321/Mount Herman Road intersection right of way acquisition
||Fiscal year 2018
|U.S. 321/Mount Herman Road intersection construction
||Fiscal year 2019
|U.S. 70 to U.S. 321A construction
|U.S. 70 to U.S. 321A right of way acquisition
*Future dates subject to change
Senior Public Involvement Officer
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1598 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1598
Project Development Engineer
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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.