U.S. 321 to reopen today

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Both lanes of U.S. 321 near Lenoir are expected to re-open between 4 and 4:30 this afternoon.
Message boards are being changed to alert motorists to the anticipated re-opening time.
Paving of the road began this morning and is nearly complete. Crews yesterday removed the last rocks from the road that were brought down during a large blast last Friday.
Boulders along the section of U.S. 321 were loosened during a routine blast on Dec. 3 as part of the project to widen 6.6 miles of the road from Blowing Rock to Lenoir. During the blast, more rock than anticipated fell onto the highway. U.S. 321 was closed that afternoon until the morning of Dec. 4.
After inspecting the blast area Dec. 7, engineers determined that several boulders needed to be removed from the slope to ensure its safety.
Crews have worked around the clock to clean up the site and ensure it is once again safe for traffic.
NCDOT has requested that W.C. English postpone routine blasting work in the area until Jan. 5 to allow U.S. 321 to remain open at all times. This will ensure easier access for travelers heading to ski areas and other popular destinations in the High Country.
Until the road is re-opened this afternoon, motorists can still reach area attractions by using the suggested detour route. For tourism information, go to www.visitnc.com.
The N.C. Department of Transportation reminds motorists to watch signs for construction information, stay alert and obey the posted speed limit.
Plan ahead before driving by visiting the NCDOT Traveler Information Management Web site at www.ncdot.gov/traffictravel or call 511, the state’s free travel information line for current travel conditions.