Highlands Road safety project now underway

Improvements to the shoulders and the addition of reflective rumble strips on U.S. 64/N.C. 28 are designed to reduce crashes.

A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation has begun a safety project along a stretch of Highlands Road in Macon County that should have long-lasting benefits for residents and visitors.

The project is funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program which is designed to address specific traffic safety concerns such as those along this stretch of highway.

“This project is a wonderful example of how our engineers are utilizing data to help improve safety for drivers,” Division 14 Engineer Wanda Austin said. “Our Highway Safety Improvement Program plays a critical role in identifying areas of concern and recommending improvements on our local roadways.”

A five-year study of this corridor revealed a total of 144 crashes including 12 severe injury crashes and five fatalities. New construction addresses multiple areas in a six-mile stretch on Highlands Road (U.S. 64/N.C. 28) between Rogers Road and Walnut Creek Road.

Crews for Harrison Construction are installing four-foot paved shoulders in areas prone to vehicles leaving the road to the right, and crews are also installing rumble strips on the center line for the entire length of the project. The rumble strips are a relatively new design — first installed in 2016 — and are effective in alerting drivers to their location while creating less ambient noise than traditional rumble strips.

The extra shoulder width will provide errant vehicles additional space to get back on path before running off the road, and rumble strips alert drivers that they are about to cross into oncoming traffic. These rumble strips also feature reflective paint which increase visibility of the centerline at night and in wet conditions.

In order for crews to safely complete the project, the contractor is required to use a single-lane closure for the duration of the project. NCDOT officials anticipate this $1.4 million project to conclude in October.

Transportation officials remind drivers to slow down, be alert and obey all posted signs when driving through work zones.

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