Road work could take a few years

  • (Lorrie Ross • Clay County Progress) Modernization has begun on NC Highway 175, which travels south into Hiawassee, Ga. Construction equipment has been present on that road for several months, especially near the High Bridge where this picture was taken. Expect the heavy equipment to remain on site for a while since the scheduled completion date is not until Oct. 1, 2021.
    (Lorrie Ross • Clay County Progress) Modernization has begun on NC Highway 175, which travels south into Hiawassee, Ga. Construction equipment has been present on that road for several months, especially near the High Bridge where this picture was taken. Expect the heavy equipment to remain on site for a while since the scheduled completion date is not until Oct. 1, 2021.
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It seems there is road construction happening just about anywhere one drives. Clay County has some major road projects happening now and road construction will continue for at least the next few years. We have compiled a list of the major road projects for readers. First, let’s go to NC Highway 175, which travels south into Hiawassee, Ga.

Construction equipment has been present on that road for several months, especially near the High Bridge and close to Jack Rabbit Campground where a longtime general store and café have already been removed. Trees and some other buildings have been removed in some areas, too. According to Andy Russell, District Engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the NC 175 project is modernization for safety reasons.

The contracted bid amount for this project is $19,735,711.70, but after the project is completed, there will be two travel lanes, each 11 feet wide, with a minimum of five feet paved shoulder. “The paved shoulder is a recovery lane,” Russell explained. If a driver needs to dodge an animal or another vehicle which has crossed the center line, having the paved shoulder provides more room to safely do so.

Where the road crosses into Georgia, there will be a small transition area. Expect the heavy equipment to remain present another two years or so. Russell said the NC 175 project is on schedule; however, the scheduled completion date is not until Oct. 1, 2021. Along NC 69, the right of way acquisition was completed and some structures are being removed.

Construction only began so moving buildings and trees has barely started. “NC 69 may have had some mobility or congestion pieces, too,” Russell said. “But the main reasons are also modernization and safety reasons for the volume of traffic it receives.” Utility relocations along Highway 69 should begin in December, followed by tree and vegetation removal operations starting as soon as Jan. 6, 2020. Actual roadway construction operations are scheduled to begin June 3, 2020. “The new facility will be a 4-lane divided roadway,” Russell added. “Access to all businesses along the corridor will be provided during construction.”

Wright Brothers Construction Company, of Charleston, Tenn., has contracted to do the NC 69 project, with a completion date set for Sept. 15, 2023. The estimated cost will be $46,327,228.88. In addition, Highway 64 will eventually have some upgrades. Russell said it will be widened from Business 64 in Clay County to Highway 141 in Cherokee County. “The time frame and cost estimates for the widening of US 64 between Hayesville and Cherokee County have not been established,” Russell said. “The plans are in development.”

As for Highway 64 Business, about 90 percent of the right-of-way acquisitions have been made and plans are near completion for construction into downtown from where the five lane begins. According to Russell, there are no current plans for Highway 64 from business 64 to the bridge just past Myers Chapel Road.