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Photo courtesy of Alexander County Government

Officials Discuss Highway 127 Widening Project

The NC Hwy. 127 widening project and a proposed “swap” with the City of Hickory were discussed at a meeting with NC Department of Transportation Division 12 Engineer Mark Stafford last Monday, July 25. Alexander County Commissioners Ronnie Reese, Marty Pennell, and Kent Herman were in attendance, along with County Manager Rick French, members of the Alexander County Board of Education, Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Hefner, and interested citizens.

If the project proceeds as originally planned, the NC Hwy. 127 widening project would run from Cloninger Mill Road in Catawba County to Richey Road in Alexander County, with a four-lane divided highway and a new two-lane bridge. The Alexander County portion will include a sidewalk on the east side and a multi-use path on the west side.

Stafford led the discussion at the meeting and explained the current plans for NC Hwy. 127 as well as a proposal from the City of Hickory to swap part of the Alexander County portion of the road project for various benefits to be determined by both parties.

County Manager Rick French said the county hasn’t received much information about the project recently but plans to meet with City of Hickory officials this week if possible to discuss more details about the swap.

Stafford said if the swap is accepted, the widening project would end at Shiloh Church Road near Mt. Pisgah Lutheran Church. In either case, NCDOT will construct a southbound right-turn lane onto Bethlehem School Road and that intersection will have a traffic signal. Stafford also said, if the swap is not agreed upon, the project will go all the way to Richey Road as originally planned.

Stafford said the City of Hickory would like to use some of the NCDOT funds from the NC Hwy. 127 project for a Startown Road project, which is currently unfunded. He said the portion from Cloninger Mill Road to Shiloh Church Road is estimated to cost $54 million, which includes the construction of a new two-lane bridge. The segment from Shiloh Church Road to Richey Road is estimated at $39 million.

Stafford said right-of-way acquisition for the NC Hwy. 127 widening project is expected to begin in 2024, with construction to begin in 2026. Once begun, Stafford believes construction will last approximately three years. A representative with NCDOT was scheduled to speak at today’s (August 1) meeting of the Board of Commissioners, but following a phone conversation last Wednesday (July 27), the presentation was postponed as it appears that NCDOT will receive additional funds and needs more time to review current STIP projects.