U.S. 321 widening completion date delayed
Maymead Inc. of Mountain City, Tenn., has replaced Taylor &
Murphy of Asheville as the prime contractor on the U.S. 321 widening project in Blowing Rock.
According to the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT), Taylor & Murphy has been undergoing a company restructuring and could not continue work on the project.
Maymead was selected by the bonding company, Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, to complete the project. Maymead was one of the original bidders on the project in 2011 and was already its largest subcontractor. A new subcontractor, Vecellio & Grogan Inc. of Beckley, W.Va., has been hired to support rock-blasting and grading work.
NCDOT requires a contractor to provide bonds on all projects more than $500,000 to address situations when a contractor has difficulty completing a project. The bonding company arranges for a replacement contractor, approved by NCDOT, to complete the project. NCDOT does not pay additional money related to this replacement.
The bonding company has worked with Taylor & Murphy and Maymead to ensure all safety and erosion control issues have been addressed during the transition. Construction is expected to continue in full once the weather improves.
According to NCDOT, the transition from Taylor & Murphy to Maymead, as well as inclement winter weather, has slowed work on the project. Additionally, NCDOT and the town of Blowing Rock worked together to change the wall pattern on 36 of the 40 walls being built along the project to better fit the character of the village. Because of these changes, the scheduled completion date has been revised from the fall of 2015 to June 30, 2016.
The road has not been closed for blasting since December and, weather permitting, crews made temporary road repairs, cleared right of way and filled deep valleys in the southern part of the project toward Lenoir.
Once blasting resumes, motorists should expect the road to be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and traffic detoured around the blasting area.
“The nearly four-mile project has unique challenges,” a NCDOT spokesperson said. “The project traverses an historic district and rocky terrain, and work is dependent on the ever-changing mountain weather.”
Once completed, the project is expected to improve mobility through the corridor and improve access to businesses in both downtown Blowing Rock and along U.S. 321.
After the first year of the project, crews hauled nearly 76,000 cubic yards of granite off site or to use as fill. That equals about 57,456 tons, or about the weight of 57,000 Volkswagen Beetles.
There will continue to be regular project updates throughout the project, provided through the NCDOT project website ( http://www.ncdot.gov/projects/BlowingRock321/) and social media. People may also call the project hotline at (828) 964-3260 to speak to an NCDOT representative during regular weekday business hours (8 a.m. until 5 p.m.).