By David Rogers. June 22, 2018. BLOWING ROCK, NC — It only takes once.
Back in 1968, the Season 3, Episode 11 of the hit TV series, Lost in Space, gave birth to the catchphrase, “Danger, Will Robinson.” While that phrase was only used once by the scriptwriters, it nonetheless went viral (in modern-day terms). Other catchphrases, such as “It does not compute” also originated with the show and were used several times in various episodes.
COVER IMAGE: What’s wrong with this picture?
We have wondered over the last several months why the speed limit of the soon-to-be-finished U.S. 321 coming up the mountain will remain 35 mph after construction is completed. Now we understand. Danger (with a capital “D”) is, quite literally, around every curve.
With the final layers of asphalt near or at completion for the U.S. 321 widening project between Green Hill Rd. and Blackberry Rd., the various lines and markings, though perhaps not yet final, are beginning to be more obvious. A trouble spot needs to be brought to our readers’ attention, for safety’s sake. It is the proverbial accident waiting to happen.
As you start the southbound descent past the Green Hill Rd./Rock Rd. intersection, U.S. 321 widens so that there is about a four-foot wide median between the four lanes of traffic (two lanes in each direction). But as soon as the highway enters the section of sharp twists and turns, the median quickly narrows to a narrow, double-yellow line separating the two southbound lanes from the two northbound lanes.
Especially as you get closer to the condominium complex at about the third turn, it gets tricky tight. When our photographic images were captured, all traffic in both direction was in their respective left-hand lanes, with orange cones keeping traffic from straying into the right lanes. Fortunately for the big rig truckers negotiating the curves, the orange cones were well into that right-hand lane. Otherwise, they would be plowing into them and knocking them down.
The critical observation here is that when longer tractor-trailer rigs (i.e. with 53-foot trailers) negotiate that and other curves by hugging or even going over the center line, the back ends of those trailers are still drifting over into the right-hand lane.
It’s not the truck drivers’ fault. They are doing their best with the cards that have been dealt. Those longer rigs almost HAVE to use the left lane going down the mountain because the right lane curve is even sharper than the left lane when it turns to the right. Using the right lane would mean their trailer’s rear-most tires would be dragging through the shoulder, or beyond.
There are two risks present:  to the oncoming vehicles coming up the mountain and approaching what is essentially a blind curve with some long trucks over the double-yellow center line by necessity, and  to any unsuspecting driver pulling alongside the truck in the right-hand lane.
We understand that the available real estate through that section was limited, but there are a couple of curves there that are just too tight. Be careful, Blowing Rock, and spread the word about the danger. Slow down coming up the mountain for fear of a head-on collision with a descending truck and trailer. Similarly, don’t try to pass one of those big rigs on the right until you hit the straightaway, or at least further down where the median widens to about two feet.
In approximately ten minutes of standing at that last sharp curve by the condominiums, we counted a number of trucks, but a total of four bigger rigs (and not even one of those big 53-foot trailers). At that rate, it translates to 24 chances per hour or, conceivably, 576 “opportunities” each day for an accident to happen.
Be forewarned. Be safe.