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Road Projects In Rural Counties Shelved Due To Funding Woes

Posted September 14, 2006
Updated November 10, 2006

— On Thursday, representatives for five counties in the Triangle area -- Person, Granville, Vance, Warren and Franklin -- got bad news about future rural highway funding.

In mapping out its road priorities for the next seven years, the Department of Transportation hasn't mandated any new road projects in the area and has delayed or left unfunded several projects already in the works.

The four-laning of Highway 158 from Interstate 95 in Roanoke Rapids to Interstate 85 in Warren County has long been in the works, with the purchase of right-of-way property slated to begin in six years. Now, both the right-of-way purchases and the start of construction are listed as unfunded.

"All of us, not just the public but also here at DOT, we are frustrated that the money we have," said Walter Bowman with the DOT. "The needs are much greater than the money that we have available. And it's going to continue to be that way."

Not all of DOT's rural projects have been delayed or shelved. Workers have been building the western loop around Henderson for a couple of years, and it's nearing completion.

The DOT blamed the delay on construction costs. State officials also said the federal government is keeping more of North Carolina's road building dollars. For every dollar sent to Washington for road construction, only 86 cents returns to the state.

However, officials from rural counties said they have needs, too. Crumbling pavement would put them at a disadvantage in attracting new jobs and tourists.

The regional transportation group that represents rural counties north of Raleigh said they aren't giving up.

"Well, it's our job to keep these important projects on the table, and we will," said Oxford City Manager Tommy Marrow.

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