The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) in the US has awarded a contract to Wright Brothers Construction for the widening of the NC 69 Highway in Clay County.

Worth $46.3m, the contract involves widening the highway from the Georgia state line to US 64 near Hayesville.

The highway will be widened from two lanes to four, with a raised median.

The width of the inside and outside lanes will be 12ft and 14ft respectively. The outside shoulder will be a 10ft-berm, which will allow for the future construction of a sidewalk.

In addition, the median will comprise designated left-turn lanes at U-turn areas and intersections, which is expected to make space for large vehicles.

Construction is expected to commence in January next year and be completed by March 2024.

After completion, the road is expected to accommodate increased traffic growth in 2045 and decrease the occurrence of T-bone crashes.

The project is part of the top five priorities under the Clay County Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

Highway NC 69 is part of the 1965 Appalachian Highway Development System Corridor A, which spans from Interstate 285 near Atlanta to I-40 near Clyde, NC.

Division 14 engineer Brian Burch said: “We are delighted to begin construction on a project that will improve connections for residents and businesses in Clay County with our friends across North Carolina and in neighbouring Georgia.

“This long-awaited project is a continuation of a commitment to provide a brighter future for western North Carolina.”

This February, NCDOT opened a $252m bridge over Oregon Inlet to traffic.

The new 2.8 mile-long structure replaced the 2.4 mile-long Herbert C Bonner Bridge built in 1963.