After being granted a temporary reprieve, motorists who use N.C. 89 in the Lowgap area will be subjected to a lengthy detour beginning next Monday.
Officials say the detour is necessary so crews can complete the final phase of a project to straighten a dangerous curve on that roadway near Lowgap. This is expected to take about two weeks.
“The work was originally scheduled for the last week of May,” said Brandon Whitaker, local district engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation.
However, that initial start date of May 27 was delayed until June 15, after Surry County schools dismiss this week for the summer.
“The new schedule will allow teachers and students to get through the last days of class using their regular route to school,” Whitaker said.
Workers are making improvements to a quarter-mile stretch of N.C. with a high accident rate. Crews have been involved with removing a dangerous curve between Lowgap and the Virginia state line, with the first phase of the safety-improvement project completed earlier.
When work begins next week on the final phase, they will be constructing connections from the existing roadway to a new stretch of highway, requiring the detour.
Through traffic will be routed on a more than 40-mile detour around the project. From Lowgap, drivers can take N.C. 89 eastbound to Interstate 77-North into Virginia, use U.S. 221-South/U.S. 58-West to Galax, then Virginia 89-South back into North Carolina. Traffic detoured on N.C. 89 eastbound will reverse directions.
“When the project is finished, drivers will no longer have to navigate a tight curve in an area with a high accident rate,” Whitaker added regarding the improvements to the mountainous roadway that has long plagued residents, tourists and truckers.
The affected portion of N.C. 89 is scheduled to reopen on June 29.