Longterm median project starts on Haywood/Jackson line
The state is attempting to solve traffic safety problems on U.S. Highway 74 near the Jackson County line on Balsam Mountain in a project that is expected to last about nine months.
NCDOT crews are currently working to install metal guard rails in place of the existing concrete median in a five-mile stretch of road from Exit 98 to just west of the Jackson County line, said NCDOT spokesperson Jordan-Ashley Baker.
"They are doing it to improve safety to reduce the number of cross median crashes," she said.
The project was implemented after the state conducted a five-year traffic study of the area from April 2004 to March 2009. During that time, there were a total of 20 cross median crashes, three of which were fatal and one caused severe injury. The $4.8 million project that started earlier this month isn't expected to be completed until Sept. 15, 2014.
Brad Dodson, owner of Mud Dabbers Pottery & Crafts said the road work did not begin at the most ideal time of year when it comes to his business.
"I get more local business in November and December than any time of the year," he said.
Though customers are still coming to shop, he said many of them comment on the road work.
"They have to go a mile beyond the store, make a u-turn and come back," he said.
That's why he placed a sign on his store just to let people know he's still in business.
"I just put it up so people coming here know there is a place to turn around. In terms of people getting in and out, they just have to be more cautious," he said.
Last week, crews closed down one lane on each side of the highway, however, the remainder of road work is expected to be completed without any other disruption to the normal traffic pattern, Baker said.