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NCDOT will remove the infamous "Snowbird Curve" on Route 89 south of Galax, the scene of multiple crashes. The work will cause delays for more than a year.
By PATRICK SMITH
LOWGAP, N.C. — “Snowbird Curve” has helped N.C. 89 build an infamous reputation over the years as one of the most dangerous roads in the area.
Starting in October, a construction project will attempt to change that.
Many residents of the Twin Counties will recall the numerous wrecks that have occurred on the winding, narrow quarter-mile stretch of the road south of Galax that is known to be particularly dangerous for trucks and larger vehicles.
“That curve has a long history of serious accidents,” said John Shelton, director of emergency services in Surry County, N.C. “It’s one of the more dangerous areas traveled, particularly in bad weather.”
The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) reported 20 accidents in the curve between 2004 and 2009.
The project will be undertaken primarily by DLB Inc. of Hillsville, which was awarded a $1.6 million contract from NCDOT. DLB is expected to begin work as early as Oct. 1 and is scheduled to be finished between December 2013 and November 2014.
The project will involve removing a large portion of the embankment and re-paving the road to make it wider, which should prove to make travel for large vehicles on the highway much safer and, in turn, reduce the number of accidents.
The project will inconvenience people who frequently travel the road, as the work is anticipated to cause some traffic delays. Shelton said that a portable stoplight system allowing one-lane passage will be installed and used to direct traffic for the duration of the project.
A press release from the NCDOT also stated that the route could be closed to traffic on certain weekdays for blasting, redirecting motorists to Interstate 77 as a detour route to and from Galax.
Shelton also suggested the Blue Ridge Parkway as another alternate route.
He urged those frustrated with the expected traffic delays to “be patient” during the process.