NCDOT to restart NC 9 improvements, widening

Published 11:53 am Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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Right-of-way staking to begin in July 


A once on-hold road improvement and widening project has been put back on the NCDOT’s front burner, and area drivers will soon see signs of preliminary project activity on NC 9.

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Andrew Buchanan, assistant division proposal engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, attended the Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night to provide an update on the state transportation improvement plan for proposed widening and safety improvements to NC 9, starting at NC 108 in Mill Spring and ending at US 74.


In early July, motorists and residents along the 2.7-mile stretch will notice right-of-way staking as surveyors will be marking proposed boundary lines. Soon thereafter, the NCDOT will move to negotiate right-of-way offers with property owners.


The major focus of the project is to improve safety on this road, according to Buchanan. To do this, the NCDOT will widen both travel lanes from 10 feet to 12 feet, add six-foot-wide paved shoulders, and add 12-inch rumble strips along the length of the project to warn distracted drivers. 


Additionally, two turn lanes will be added at the entrance to Polk County Elementary school, one left turn on the approach from the Mill Spring direction, and one right hand turn on the approach from US 74. 


“We hope this will improve traffic flow during drop off and pick up time at the school,” he said.  


NC 9 is classified as a ‘major collector’ in North Carolina’s function and classification system, but based on that system it falls well outside of NCDOT’s current design standards, Buchanan said, adding that between 2012 and 2017, there were 36 vehicle accidents on that stretch of road. Twenty involved property damage only, 15 involved injuries, and one was a fatality. 


With construction slated to start in fall 2024, the $12.2 million project will not be without headaches for area motorists once the project gets underway. There will be seven weekends in which the road will be closed due to pipe crossings, and motorists will have two detour options. The official detour route will be 7.7 miles, take 10 minutes, and will direct drivers on US 74 and NC 108. A second, local detour route will utilize Fox Mountain Road, Bill Collins Road, and Smith Waldrop Road – a 4 mile, 7 minute drive.


Commission Chairman Tommy Melton and County Manager Marche Pittman asked Buchanan to set up a second public hearing to update the community on the project specifics and timeline. Watch the Bulletin for an announcement of that meeting when a date is selected. 


The first public hearing was held in April 2019. The project was put on hold in October 2019 due to budget constraints. It was restarted in April 2022. Utility relocation is slated to begin in October 2023, and construction is set to start in fall 2024.