Drivers using N.C. 268 between Elkin and Ronda may see short delays over the next few months as road construction crews work to widen the highway, following the state’s approval of a $1.75 million bid.
The widening project, contracted to Carl Rose & Sons, will not provide additional lanes of traffic, rather it will widen the existing lanes in hopes of making the stretch of roadway safer for travelers, explained Trent Beaver, Division 11 construction engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
At present, the asphalt pavement covers 10 feet on each side of the center line, but when the project is complete their will be 11 feet of travel lane and an additional two feet of paved shoulder on each side of the road, he said. The additional feet of pavement will allow extra space for errant drivers before they actually leave the roadway.
More than four miles of roadway will be included in the widening project, beginning at Hoots Road in Ronda east through the four-lane divided section of West End Elkin, said Beaver.
“It will include a significant improvement as far as safety, as the contractor will add a left turn lane at Edwards Lakeview Drive. It turns at the crest of a hill where there have been serious accidents in the past. The sight distance is limited there because of the crest of the hill,” Beaver said.
Edwards Lakeview Drive is used as a popular cut-through from N.C. 268 to Austin Traphill Road for those traveling from Ronda toward Elkin.
The roadway portion of the project is expected to be complete in December, with additional time allowed for establishment of vegetation and any final punch-list items that need to be addressed.
As far as traffic delays, Beaver said the project area will be managed with lane closures and pilot cars leading the flow through the construction. Also, the road crews are not allowed to be in the roadway until after 8:30 a.m. and, when they are working in close proximity to East Wilkes High School, they cannot impede traffic between 3 and 4:30 p.m.
An ongoing project in North Wilkesboro already is expanding N.C. 268 to four lanes out to Airport Road, and Beaver said a feasibility study is underway to study whether there is a need to widen N.C. 268 to four lanes through the whole corridor of 268 from North Wilkesboro to Elkin.
“We felt like we needed to go ahead with safety improvements, because that may be years down the road, and we don’t know what the study will show us. It may not show a need for four lane for the entire corridor,” Beaver said. “It is in the very early stages of project development.”
The State Road resident said traveling I-77 to U.S. 421 to reach Wilkesboro “is essentially the same amount of time, even though it is eight or nine miles farther than if you go N.C. 268.”
He said it is likely several people will start taking that route to avoid the construction area delays, “because there will be some minor delays.”
But he assured that the contractor is encouraged to hold delays to no more than 15 minutes.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.