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WEST JEFFERSON — Contract bidding for Section E of the U.S. 221 widening project was scheduled to begin in September, but has been delayed two years, according to NCDOT Division 11 Engineer Mike Pettyjohn.

While the rest of U.S. 221 continues to widen, with one section completed and three others under construction, Section E of the project — a 3.5 mile stretch from the four-way stoplight at N.C. 163 and South Jefferson Avenue in West Jefferson, to the intersection of East Main Street and Cherry Drive in Jefferson — has been delayed due to a combination of events, Pettyjohn said in an email.

“Events such as hurricanes Florence and Michael, flooding events in the mountains, Map Act settlements and project scope increases have resulted in a need to spread out project delivery … and address these additional expenditures,” Pettyjohn said. “The scheduled delay is from September 2019 to September 2021.”

Projects already under construction will continue, and NCDOT is investing more than $2 billion in new construction during the 2019-2020 fiscal year, according to Pettyjohn.

U.S. 221 Section E is estimated to cost about $21.2 million to widen into a four-lane highway, and construction was scheduled to begin in March 2020, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.

AP&T will provide further updates on the U.S. 221 widening project as they become available.

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