U.S. HWY 221 Widening in NC High Country

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U.S. Highway 221 is key to the North Carolina High Country. It is the main route into Ashe County for commuters and commercial vehicles as the highway connects Boone with Jefferson.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been hard at work on widening the U.S. Highway 221 from West Jefferson to Jefferson to a four-lane median-divided highway. According to NCDOT Division 11 Engineer Michael L. Poe, the project is on track to be completed by December 15, 2025.

Much of the widening involves smoothing out curves and reducing grade inclines, which will provide greater sight distances​ for drivers. The 16.1-mile project is designed to improve traffic flow, increase capacity, reduce the number of crashes, and increase regional connectivity (easier travel for larger vehicles) along this highly traveled route.

Looking back on the project timeline provided by the NCDOT, construction on Highway 221 started in December of 2015 and was divided into five different sections. Section E, the fifth and final section of the project, is 3.5 miles from the Highway 163 intersection to the U.S. Highway 221 Business and N.C. Highway 88 intersection in Jefferson. Construction of that part of the project began in July of 2020.

The initial cost estimate of the 10-year highway construction project was $154.7 million.

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