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Pole Branch Road detour postponed yet again

Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. 10/8/2019 By Michael Barrett, Gaston Gazette
a car parked on the side of a road: Major construction has been underway on Pole Branch Road near southeastern Gaston County for a year and a half now. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette]© Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette/Gaston Gazette/TNS Major construction has been underway on Pole Branch Road near southeastern Gaston County for a year and a half now. [Mike Hensdill/The Gaston Gazette]

The chink-ridden route known as Pole Branch Road is already a lot like a daytime soap opera, what with its dramatic twists, turns, ups and downs.

Unfortunately, the effort to modernize the two-lane gateway from Lake Wylie, South Carolina, into southeastern Gaston County has become similarly unpredictable.

The latest plan was for a portion of the vital thoroughfare to be shut down beginning Oct. 11, setting in motion a 2.5-mile detour expected to last six months. But officials announced within the last few days that won't happen just yet.

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"The detour will be delayed, hopefully only by a few weeks," said Patrick Hamilton, the manager of the Pennies for Progress road improvement program in York County, South Carolina. "There ended up being a utility in the area that's just not going to be relocated in time, so they've got to back up and take care of that."

Other various phases of construction on the road have been delayed several times since the widening project began a year and a half ago. The bulk of those occurred a little less than a year ago, when an extremely wet fall and early winter threw everything off schedule, Hamilton said.

Blythe Development began work in May of 2018 on a $30 million project to improve 3.8 miles of blacktop and bridges south of the North Carolina state line. On Pole Branch Road, the two current lanes are being widened to include a third center turn lane, from the bridge at the lake to the Y-intersection where Pole Branch intersects with S.C. 274 at All Saints Catholic Church.

From that point south to the Wal-Mart shopping center, on the span that crosses Moss Creek, the highway is further being widened to five lanes. Sidewalks will be built on both sides of the road through the entire project area.

Last April, Pole Branch Road was entirely shut down for one weekend, and a 12-mile detour was put in place for those three days to allow workers to install new drain pipes and culverts in one particular area.

The road was to be shut down for the detour from Oct. 11 to roughly April 15. If the detour is postponed a couple of months, not taking effect until December, that could push back the reopening of the road until mid-June or later.

Once the detour does take effect, Pole Branch will be closed between Fewell Road and the Y-intersection at S.C. 274. Southbound vehicles following the 2.5-mile detour will have to turn right off of Pole Branch onto Fewell Road, then left onto S.C. 274 to continue into Lake Wylie. Those going in the other direction, into North Carolina, will follow the opposite route.

Drivers who want to avoid Pole Branch Road altogether during that time can use Union Road or Union-New Hope Road to get north or south.

A temporary traffic signal will be used at the Pole Branch-Fewell intersection while the detour is in effect, then removed once the main route reopens.

You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or on Twitter @GazetteMike.

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©2019 Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C.

Visit Gaston Gazette, Gastonia, N.C. at www.gastongazette.com

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