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April 17, 2014

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Members of the Blowing Rock Town Council hear a presentation by town planner Kevin Rothrock during a special meeting on Monday about design features of the new U.S. 321 widening project. Jeff Eason photo



Originally published: 2013-12-26 15:06:01
Last modified: 2013-12-26 15:06:47

321 details examined

Jeff Eason

Uniformity was the key word at a special meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council Monday.

The commissioners were going over some of the details in what the new U.S. 321/Valley Boulevard corridor is going to look like when it is finished.

Particularly, the commissioners were deciding fencing, rock retaining walls and decorative pedestrian lighting along the new four-lane road.

“I’m afraid that if we don’t go for a uniform look to the highway and its fencing, we’ll look back on it in five years and regret it,” Commissioner Ray Pickett said.

At discussion was whether or not to have two different styles of fencing atop the new retaining walls now being constructed as part of the road widening. The N.C. Department of Transportation has agreed with the town to put in a higher grade of black aluminum fence on the retaining walls, as long as the town comes up with the money for the difference in what that would cost and what it would cost to put up standard black chain-link fences.

The fences are required by the NCDOT for pedestrian safety reasons and are about four feet tall.
According to town planner Kevin Rothrock, Samaritan’s Purse has agreed to pay for half of the fencing upgrade along its property, so that would bring down the total cost to the town.

The commissioners agreed in a unanimous vote to upgrade all of the fencing along the new highway. It is estimated it will cost the town $192,000 for the upgrade, which will be paid during the next three years.

The commissioners also voted unanimously to select a coach light with downcast lighting without a lens as the style of decorative pedestrian street light to be used above the sidewalks along the new highway.

The proposed sidewalk from the Green Park Inn to the South Main Street will have decorative pedestrian lights on the north side of the road approximately 100 to 120 feet apart.

From South Main Street at the Broyhill Furniture showroom to Possum Hollow Road, pedestrian lights will be along sidewalks on both sides of the road.

The purpose of the lights is not for highway lighting, but for pedestrian lighting only.

The commissioners chose the downcast lighting over a standard coach light with bulbs in the middle and lenses.

The downcast lighting shields neighboring businesses and residences from unwanted light.

The cost of maintenance for each style of light is $16 to $18 per month per light.

The commissioners directed Rothrock to request from the NCDOT more options when it comes to a rock “catchment” fence that will go along the rock face next to the highway below Cliff Dwellers Inn.

According to Rothrock, town of Blowing Rock staff had not been previously made aware by the NCDOT that the catchment fence there was a requirement. The fence is required to be 12 to 14 feet high and placed close to the rockface. The proposed fence will be made of galvanized metal that has been coated with vinyl.

The council was shown photos of a similar catchment fence that is on U.S. 321 south of Blowing Rock past Blackberry Road.

“Will a fence even catch anything that close to the rockface,” Commissioner Doug Matheson asked. “I don’t see how it will catch anything.”

“We asked the DOT the same thing,” Rothrock said. “They said it is required.”

The next regularly scheduled public meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council is set for 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14, at Town Hall.

 
For more information and stories, see The Blowing Rocket.


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