Howell Mill Road projects nears completion | Gallery
Barring any unexpected circumstances, Howell Mill Road should be open to vehicle traffic in a couple of weeks.
The $11.7 million North Carolina Department of Transportation project began back in May 2015 with road closures beginning in July. The original completion date was set for October 2016, but Nathan Tanner, NCDOT District 14 assistant resident engineer, said some hard work and cooperative weather helped keep the project way ahead of schedule.
A majority of the work has been done but minor work will continue on the road until early spring. Tanner thought the road would be able to reopen in December, but a last minute change in the project paired with heavy rains during Christmas made that goal impossible.
Allen Newland, owner of A Shot Above, recently took these aerial shots of the construction project on Howell Mill Road in Waynesville exclusively for The Smoky Mountain News. See more at www.facebook.com/ashotaboveWNC
“With any project this size minor changes happen, but overall the project went as planned and the contractor really pushed the work,” Tanner said.
The Howell Mill Road project included widening the road, installing a new bridge, constructing new sidewalks, adding a roundabout at Vance Street and smoothing out some of the curves in the road to make it an easier and safer drive for vehicle traffic.
“This new redesign on Howell Mill with better alignment will eliminate the vertical and horizontal curves — it will create a smoother transition for the public. We also widened it and added a center turn lane,” Tanner said. “As for the roundabout at Vance Street — they are statistically safer than signal intersections because there are less conflict points.”
The only things left to do before the road can be opened is the installation of guardrails and fencing on the new bridge. Tanner said the bridge was designed to be aesthetically pleasing with a special colored coating and a recent decision was made to order a different kind of guardrail that would complement the bridge. Once the new guardrail arrives and is installed, the road will be opened again.
In the spring, Tanner said the project would finish up with some secondary road paving, new signals installed at the U.S. 19/23 intersection, landscaping and demolishing the old bridge structure over the creek. Trout regulations have prevented them from doing any demolition work around the water this time of year, but Tanner said it could be done in April.