More projects on tap with NC road-building plan

Posted December 4, 2014

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— North Carolina's first transportation funding plan using new standards promises spending on about 500 additional projects for the next decade, many of which would have otherwise been delayed.

State Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Gov. Pat McCrory released the draft State Transportation Improvement Program during a Thursday morning meeting of the State Board of Transportation.

It proposes spending $15 billion on road construction, aviation and public transit projects through 2025.

"I'm pleased that the transportation law and vision, which is based on economic development, safety and congestion in stead of politics is working as intended and exceeding our expectations," McCrory said in a statement.

Over half of nearly 1,100 projects on the program list were scored under a new "strategic mobility formula" the legislature approved in 2013. The formula concentrates more on easing congestion and jump-starting regional economies while also giving weight to the desires of local officials. Other projects making the list largely include bridges, interstate maintenance and projects with contracts that already were expected to go out for bid before next July.

McCrory told board members the new funding priority method aims to relieve highway corridor "choke points" between economic centers that slows traffic and discourages out-of-state companies from wanting to relocate in both urban and rural areas.

Major proposals include making U.S. Highway 1 a limited-access highway north of Interstate 540 through Wake Forest and into Franklin County and adding a toll or express lane on Interstate 40 from the U.S. 1/64 interchange in Cary to U.S. Highway 15/501 in Chapel Hill.

Other area Department of Transportation projects include:

Wake County

  • Widen Wade Avenue to six lanes near Interstate 440
  • Make interchange improvements on Wake Forest Road
  • Complete N.C. Highway 540 in southern Wake County
  • Widen Ten-Ten Road between Apex Peakway and Kildaire Farm Road
  • Add lanes to Falls of Neuse Road between Interstate 540 and Durant Road

Durham County

  • Replace Bahama Road’s bridge over Dial Creek
  • Replace the Kemp Road bridge that carries traffic over Lick Creek
  • Replace the U.S. 15/501 bridge over Cornwallis Road for traffic running north
  • Upgrade more than 9 miles of N.C. Highway 54 from U.S. 15/501 in Chapel Hill to N.C. Highway 55 in Durham
  • Construct a roundabout at the intersection of Hope Valley Road and University Drive
  • Widen and modernize Alston Avenue from N.C. Highway 147 to Holloway Street, including adding bike lanes and turn lanes over a mile stretch of road
  • Build sidewalks at various locations throughout the city

Orange County

  • Widen Interstate 85 in Orange County to N.C. Highway 147 to six lanes
  • Rehabilitate pavement on 6 miles of N.C. highway 86 to Erwin Road
  • Roundabout construction on Estes Drive in Carrboro
  • Install bus shelters at selected locations in Carrboro
  • Replace bridge No. 46 over Eno River

Cumberland County

  • Extend the Interstate 295 loop from Bragg Boulevard to Interstate 95
  • Widen Ramsey Street from U.S. Highway 401 Business to I-295
  • Widen Murchison Road from I-295 to south of U.S. 401 Bypass and from I-295 north to N.C. Highway 24/87/210 in Spring Lake.
  • Build Spring Lake Bypass from N.C. 210 to N.C. 87
  • Replace various bridges over the Cape Fear River, the South River and Cross Creek.

Other projects on the list include the Mid-Currituck Bridge along the northern Outer Banks. The state also would construct more quickly Winston-Salem's Northern Beltway and widen Interstate 26 south of Asheville.

Tata said the new formula would generate 478 highway projects, compared with 175 laid out under the program list in 2013 and 260 projects initially predicted from the new law. Economic models also estimate the projects in the draft plan would create 300,000 jobs beyond the actual construction, compared with 174,000 under the 2013 draft plan.

While the program now has $200 million more earmarked annually, Tata said more projects are being added because the state is becoming more efficient with its road building funds.

"This puts money on the street, where the needs are, right away," he said.

DOT officials will hold a public comment period and public meetings on the proposals in March and April to get feedback.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • SaveEnergyMan Dec 4, 2014

    Although it is true that gas tax monies will be shifted from rural counties to urban counties, it is those same urban counties that subsidize the schools of those counties to fund teachers/admin and a disproportionate share of the lottery proceeds go to fund school construction outside of urban areas. Just an observation for a balanced view.

  • Larry Wiandt Dec 4, 2014
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    Roads are NOT free, we pay for them with our current gas taxes, along with the huge Road Use taxes commercial vehicles pay. Tolls are just a means to pay twice for a road, which is needed to pay for the incompetency of NCDOT.

  • lewiskr45 Dec 4, 2014

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    Yeah man, I hate having to pay the government to pay for government services like roads too, it blows.

  • Sam Dutes Dec 4, 2014
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    Good, the government counts on people like you who love to pay taxes. I don't use the toll road, but it's not because of the reasons you speak of. I'm just fed up with paying one of the highest gasoline taxes in the nation and still have to pay tolls to drive on roads. Not to mention that the whole of 540 should be tolled if part of it is.

  • George Orwell Dec 4, 2014
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    Also ask Hunt and Easley. Hunt build a bridge in Wilson so he could get to town 5 minutes faster.

  • Tanya Rose Dec 4, 2014
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    I live in Southern Wake County, between Apex and FV and take the 540 toll road to Durham for work. I think my time is worth more than the little bit of money I pay for tolls. I get home faster, there is less wear and tear on my car and I use less gas because I am not sitting in the parking lot that is I40 between Raleigh and Durham. And I am not even taking into consideration the amount of frustration I don't have to put up with. It kills me that people are so opposed to a toll just because it's a toll, that they would rather sit in traffic and spend MORE money on gas and lose precious time with their family, friends or whoever you hang out with after work. What took me over an hour going down I40 takes just over 30 minutes going down the 540 toll road. And once they finish looping it through it will take even less time.

  • stevengs Dec 4, 2014

    what really irks me is when the paying company screws up and the states feels its ok for the tax payers to pay to repave the road again and not make the paving company do at thier expense...reeks of corruption...

  • John McCray Dec 4, 2014
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    Actually, with the new plan, all they've done is shifted that $15B away from lower population counties and other projects that were deemed "unimportant" and moved them to urban areas. You aren't necessarily paying for it twice, people buying gas in rural parts of the state are paying for your roads.

  • miseem Dec 4, 2014

    They are not adding any money to the pot. They are just shifting it around. The end result is that rural areas will get less funding and road maintenance will get less funding. So everyone should be prepared for more potholes on existing roads, and if you live in a rural area outside of a major thoroughfare such as Hwy 64 or 70, Rt 1, etc, don't expect any roadwork. And be prepared for tolls on new roads and bridges. And for some of these toll routes, especially bridges, you will not have a viable alternative other than just not going where you want to go. So the plan may be welcomed, particularly in urban areas that will get increased funding, it comes at a cost to some other areas and other transportation services that will receive less.

  • hp277 Dec 4, 2014

    Don't get too excited about I-40 getting toll lanes any time soon. When you dig into the documents, it lists adding 'managed lanes' to I-40 from 15-501 in Durham to US 64 in Cary - 31 miles - at a cost of $1,776,158,000 - that's $1.8 Billion.

    However, only $94 million is allocated for right of way and utilitiy work in 2024 & 2025. Construction is "unfunded".