ASHE COUNTY — Heading into nearly six years of construction, U.S. 221 from Boone to Jefferson is coming together, despite obstacles and set-backs.
In April of 2015, construction for the expansion of the 16-mile, two-lane highway began and was predicted to be complete in February of 2019. In widening to a four-lane road, major set-backs occurred when Hurricane Florence in 2018 caused a collapse in the middle of the highway in Deep Gap.
What was set to be a grand opening in 2019, has gotten pushed back to 2025.
From U.S. 421 to the South Fork of the New River, construction was completed in January and is fully open to drivers.
Heading north, the next expansion from the South Fork to NC 194 is substantially complete with all lanes open.
According to Trent Beaver, division construction engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the project for this expansion is set to be complete sometime early this summer.
“The remaining items of work are placing the final layer of asphalt pavement throughout the project and performing repair work and erosion control work after the winter,” said Beaver.
The last piece of the project is from NC 163 to the four-lane in Jefferson. Construction on this began in February with clearing land and cutting down trees. This contract is held by James R. Vannoy & Sons Construction Company, Inc.
Beaver said that clearing, grubbing and installation of erosion control measures are the first items of work. Afterwards, the contractor will begin grading and drainage installation. The contract is set to end on Dec. 25, 2025.