Long-awaited repaving of U.S. 158/N.C. 168 Barco intersection finally underway

The Barco intersection on April 29, 2020. Work has already started on the right, northbound lane. [Sam Walker photo]

The much-needed repaving of the busy U.S. 158/N.C. 168 intersection on the Currituck mainland finally began a few weeks ago.

Along with resurfacing of the Barco intersection, N.C. 168 between the junction and the Currituck courthouse is getting a new coat of asphalt as part of overall maintenance of the main highway between southeastern Virginia and the Outer Banks.

A special mixture of asphalt was applied in 2012 due to traction problems after a previous repaving of Caratoke Highway between the Wright Memorial Bridge and N.C. 168 intersection.

It allows water to move to an underlying layer of asphalt and then travel along the slope of the road to run off on the shoulders.

But within a year of the initial application, the gravel-like substance started rubbing off at several intersections and between the Knapp Memorial Bridge in Coinjock and Currituck High School.

Repairs to the outside, westbound lane made in 2013 at the Buster Newbern Road intersection between Powells Point and Jarvisburg became surrounded by even longer and deeper ruts.

The entire five-lanes of U.S. 158 from Barco to Poplar Branch was repaved last year, and the crumbling sections between Grandy and Point Harbor were also resurfaced.

The Barco intersection has gradually become a gravel pit as the road surface peels away and piles up in the travel lanes.

The problem is especially noticeable in the middle of the intersection where vehicles turn westbound on to what’s known locally as The Shortcut towards Elizabeth City. Southbound traffic crosses the same path, adding to the wear and tear.

The total N.C. 168 project cost about $4.5 million, and includes the 9-mile-long stretch between Currituck and Moyock repaved last summer. The project is scheduled for completion around July 1.

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Sam Walker is news director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, Big 94.5 and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach him at [email protected]