N.C. 16 bypass almost done

Despite reports that the new N.C. 16 would be completed within days, the bypass may not be finished for at least two more weeks, transportation officials said Thursday.

Construction crews have been working on the bypass since 2008. The new highway will decrease travel time to Charlotte and runs from south of Tower Road in Denver to Gaston County.

Most of the construction to the bypass is finished, but work to new stop lights is holding up the project’s completion, said NCDOT Resident Engineer Lex Garey.

“Right now, we are waiting on Duke Power to put in power meters for the new traffic signals at the (bypass’) ramp at N.C. 150,” Garey said.

“Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, something will be done.”

The project was scheduled to be completed in late summer to early fall, but Catawba County officials received word earlier this week that the bypass was ahead of schedule and could be finished as early as Monday, said Catawba County Planning Director Jacky Eubanks.

“We were all kind of surprised that it was this soon,” Eubanks said, adding that he, as well as other county officials, thought the highway would not be completed until September or October.

Garey said the traffic signal installation determines the remaining progress on the project. Once the stoplights are installed, they must flash for a week. After that, the project’s contractor, Blythe Construction, can “tie-in” and finish up the section of highway that comes out at Jones Fish Camp in Denver, Garey said.

Jones Fish Camp Owner Garrett Goodson has been affected by the highway construction from the beginning. The new bypass will take about 10 of his restaurant’s parking spaces in the end, and he will have to move his business' sign to make room for a new entrance.

Goodson said he does not think the construction is close to being completed, but hopes it gets finished quickly.

“I hope they do finish, and I’m ready for it,” Goodson said. “Thank the Lord business is still holding up well, but I know my customers are getting aggravated by this parking lot.”

Goodson plans on making changes to his parking lot, which got more congested since the bypass started encroaching on his land. But he said he can’t start the changes until the bypass is finished.

He said construction crews still have to make him a new entrance and put curbing around some of his parking lot. The new bypass sits slightly below his property, which Goodson said could present some dangerous hazards even with curbs.

“If somebody is backing hard, they can go over a stand up curb and go into N.C. 16 where cars are going 60 mph,” Goodson said. “I feel like they ought to put a guardrail up there.”

The bypass only has a small section in Catawba County, but officials, like Eubanks, think the decreased travel time to Charlotte will bring more business to the area.

“It creates more interest and more potential around that interchange,” Eubanks said. “The ability to get down to the Charlotte area will bring opportunity that wasn’t feasible before.”