WEST JEFFERSON-Motorists traveling in the Fleetwood area have likely noticed the removal of several area homes and businesses as the widening of U.S. 221 continues.
Work is currently underway to widen U.S. 221 from U.S. 421 in Deep Gap to U.S. 221 Business/N.C. 88 in Jefferson into a four-lane median-divided highway.
The 16.1-mile project is designed to improve traffic flow, increase capacity to reduce the number of crashes and increase regional connectivity along the highly traveled corridor, according to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Much of the widening involves smoothing out curves and reducing grade incline, which provide a greater sight distance for all motorists, according to www.ncdot.gov.
Altogether, the project consists of five sections and will cost an estimated $154.7 million. The project began in the summer of 2015.
Section A includes the widening of roadway from U.S. 421 to Idlewild Road in Watauga and Ashe counties. This 2.8 mile of roadway is estimated to cost $25.6 million
The section that includes roadwork from Idlewild Road to just north of the South Fork of the New River is known as section B. Altogether, this section of the project will cost taxpayers $21.3 million.
“A and B Section (Deep Gap to just north of South Fork New River) is approximately 35 percent complete,” said Construction Engineer Trent Beaver.
Section C includes the work being done between the south fork of the New River to south of N.C. 194 in Ashe County. Section C is projected to cost $45 million.
Beaver said C Section (South Fork New River to NC 194) is scheduled to be let to contract November 15th. Construction should begin the first of the year.
From south of N.C. 194 to north of N.C. 163 in Ashe County is referred to Section D. This section is four miles long and is estimated to cost $26 million.
Beaver said “D” Section (NC 194 to NC 163) is approximately 50 percent complete. The contractor is currently setting up base and trying to complete two new lanes in order to switch traffic to complete the remaining two lanes in the spring.
Section E includes the stretch of road that will be widened from N.C. 163 to U.S. 221 Business/N.C. 88 in Jefferson. This 3.5-mile stretch of road will cost approximately $15.4 million to widen.
“E” Section (NC 163 to 4-Lane in Jefferson) is scheduled for right-of-way acquisition to begin in 2017 with construction in 2019.
“The three active projects (A, B and D) are progressing very well and are either on or ahead of schedule,” said Beaver.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.