US 421 ramp

Vehicles use the ramp on U.S. 421 South to access U.S. 221 North, and vice-versa, shortly after the Baldridge Bridge was opened on Sept. 11.

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ASHE COUNTY — While the U.S. 221 widening project saw its latest development with the opening of Baldridge Bridge in Deep Gap Sept. 11, progress on other sections of the project has been steady throughout September and October, according to NCDOT Division 11 Construction Engineer Trent Beaver.

As follows is a breakdown of progress on the U.S. 221 widening project as of Sept. 31:

Sections A and B — starting from the junction of U.S. 421, continuing past Idlewild Road and across South Fork New River — are clustered into one contract handled since December 2015 by James R. Vannoy & Sons of Jefferson, according to Beaver.

This section is approximately 92 percent complete. The 4.6 mile stretch of road is worth $46.4 million in estimated construction costs, and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020, according to Beaver.

Baldridge Bridge and the newly opened traffic ramp are included in this section. Beaver said that although traffic is essentially in the final pattern, the contractor is continuing work on the final alignment for the ramp that redirects drivers from U.S. 221 South to U.S. 421 North toward Boone.

The contractor is also working toward getting traffic in the outside northbound and southbound lanes in order for the remaining median work to be completed.

Section C — past the bridge over South Fork New River to the N.C. 194 junction at Baldwin Road — is contracted for $53 million to Vecellio and Grogan of Beckley, W.V., who began work in February 2017, according to Beaver.

The 4-mile stretch of widening highway is approximately 78 percent complete and scheduled for completion by early 2021, Beaver said.

“Approximately 3.2 million cubic yards of the total 3.4 million cubic yards of unclassified excavation has been performed,” Beaver said. “Currently, the contractor is concentrating on constructing subgrade and paving north of the Fleetwood Fire Department in an effort to substantially complete that section of the project as soon as possible.”

Section D — from N.C. 194 to the four-way stoplight in West Jefferson — was completed by Vannoy & Sons between March 2015 and January 2019. The $21.3 million contract price for Section D went over budget by about $1.3 million.

Section E — North of the four-way stoplight in West Jefferson to U.S. 221 Business and N.C. 88 in Jefferson — is 3.5 miles long with an estimated cost of $32.2 million. Project letting for this section has been delayed to September 2021.

“As a result of budget issues, the schedule for this project is currently being revised,” Beaver said. “We will advise as soon as the new letting date is known.”

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