Maligned interchange on U.S. 321 should be open this fall

Apr. 15, 2014 @ 08:06 AM

The highway construction project many people in Caldwell County love to hate should be all but finished before the leaves turn color this fall, the N.C. Department of Transportation says.

A final layer of asphalt needs to be spread on the cloverleaf interchange at U.S. 321 and Hibriten Drive, and related work on Starcross Road to the east, should be completed by Sept. 15, and then the interchange and all four lanes of the highway will be open, resident engineer David Poindexter said Monday.

The $12.5 million project to build the interchange and a new overpass over U.S. 321 first was proposed when the furniture industry was in high gear. The interchange was supposed to make it easier for truck traffic to get to and from factories. But by the time work finally began in July 2012, years of outsourcing plus the 2008-09 recession had reduced the need for the interchange, and critics call it a waste of money.

Since the project began, U.S. 321 has been narrowed to one lane in each direction between the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center on the south and McLean Drive to the north.

Starcross Road was closed at Hibriten Drive three weeks ago as work began to realign that intersection. It will remain closed for the next 100 days or so, Poindexter said.

Hibriten Drive also has been widened from two to four lanes from U.S. 321 to Starcross Road. Miller Engineering, of Marion, is performing the work.

Officials hope to have more land cleared of trees, and grass and in place, by March.