Section D of the vaunted US-221 project broke ground on March 3, 2015. Now, three years later, Vannoy Construction seems to have gone home. Patient Ashe County residents now can look at a string of orange barrels over the four-mile stretch at a job that’s nearly complete, but seems to be stuck. A motorist would be hard-pressed to see workers along this section, perhaps a man leaning on a shovel here, a truck with a flashing light there. But no work is being done. It seems that Vannoy is intent on running out the clock all the way to the end of the May 2019 deadline.
Meanwhile, residents are inconvenienced — and worse — endangered. Many motorists have either witnessed or been involved in near-collisions at the left turn lane out of Westwood Elementary School. We made it through the school year with only one minor accident, but a horrible wreck is on the horizon as beleaguered mothers struggle to see down a blind hill in sometimes poor weather as cars race by in the opposite lanes. We’ve seen many take a fleeting chance to gun it, only to have oncoming traffic slam on their brakes to barely avoid a tragedy. The turnarounds that would relieve this danger are barreled-off. The alternative is to drive all the way to the 163/221 interchange to turn around. Many drivers who are late for work take the chance on the left out of the school.
I’m not sure if incentives for early completion were built into this project, but Vannoy needs to get back to work regardless. It’s time to staff up on Section D, and spend the two remaining weeks’ worth of effort to finish that piece. The safety and lives of our residents depend on it.
Jon Judson, Fleetwood