There's been a slow buzz building around a new kind of modeling algorithm introduced a couple years ago using what the developer (website) is calling "T-Splines". The big deal - and for anyone who's run into this problem it is a big deal - is the ability to dead end a spline as shown in the above image (note the junction in the green bullseye). The translation between NURBs and T-Splines is also pretty impressive. There have been some recent announcements, some beta testing, and the first plug-in (for Maya) is on sale. I expect more apps will be supported in the near future so this might be worth checking out now. From their website: T-Splines patent-pending technology opens up new frontiers of modeling possibilities, allowing artists and designers to add detail and merge models in ways that were previously impossible. Since T-Splines is fully compatible with existing modeling technologies, it is poised to integrate easily with any production pipeline.
CGTalk has a number of threads discussing the technology. You can just do a Search and find them. One worthwhile thread is this one which has one of the developers discussing the plug-in and what sounds like an eventual move into product development applications. The thread goes off on a tangent however, so just read "nurcc"'s posts and save yourself some time.