N.C. 89 closure to mean 40-mile detour

Staff Report

September 8, 2013

Beginning Monday, N.C. 89 in Lowgap will be closed for 10 days so crews can work along a sharp curve about a mile south of the N.C. 18/89 intersection near the Virginia border.

Travelers will be required to take a 40-mile detour route around the project, from Monday to Sept. 18.

N.C Department of Transportation officials provided this description of that route:

• Heading west from Lowgap, motorists will travel east on N.C. 89 to Interstate 77-North into Virginia.

• Take Exit 14 onto U.S. 221/58 toward Galax, Va.

• Head south on Virginia 89 into North Carolina.

• Eastbound traffic will reverse directions.

“We need to close the road to complete grading on each end of the curve, lay fiber optic lines and install a retaining wall on the lower end of the project to prevent erosion,” explained N.C. Department of Transportation Division 11 Engineer Mike Pettyjohn, whose eight-county region includes Surry.

“This will make the road safer for travelers with wider lanes and greater lines of sight,” Pettyjohn said.

The quarter-mile curve is being realigned near the existing curve to improve safety. This curve has seen a high accident rate, especially for large trucks attempting to navigate the tighter curve on the mountainous road. Drivers negotiating the sharp curve have had to slow down, and sometimes stop, along the narrow mountain road to allow large trucks room to pass.

DOT crews will work 24/7 during the upcoming closure, as they did during two previous project road closures. On Sept. 19, traffic will be moved to the new section of roadway under construction.

Weather permitting, the final layer of asphalt, striping and landscaping will take place before the project’s final inspection in late October or November, which is about a year earlier than the projected completion date of November 2014.

Unlike some projects in the North Carolina mountains, the N.C. 89 curve project was not affected by this summer’s wet weather. Crews were successful in blasting rock from the curve during the prior two road closures and worked 14-hour days in order to get the project completed early.