Local News

Highway 401 Project Gets Partial Federal Funding

Posted September 8, 2005 5:55 a.m. EDT

— Northern Wake County and Franklin County want to attract more businesses and more taxpayers with an upgraded Highway 401. The problem is many are battling for precious highway dollars that pave the way to economic development.

The state spent millions of dollars to widen Highway 401 through north Raleigh. At the Neuse River, a new six-lane highway squeezes down to a two-lane country road.

Some towns along Highway 401 in Wake County and Franklin County want the economic development boost that comes with a new highway. That big boost comes with a big price. It will cost $90 million to widen 13 miles from northern Wake County to Louisburg.

Highway 401 squeezes through downtown Rolesville, so the town will need a bypass. Its estimated cost would be $28 million. Those who travelled Highway 401 when it was a dirt road claim that would be money well-spent.

"Well, they've been talking about it long enough. I think it's time for them to do something if they are going to do it," business owner Herbert Eddins. "There's so many cars out here that they have got to do something. It's as simple as that."

Ted Daniel said he will lose some of his farmland to the road-widening -- farmland he has owned for 40 years.

"Well, I personally would not like to see it widened because of personal reasons, but I know in response that we're having that it must be done," Daniel said.

Backers of the Highway 401 widening just won $3 million in federal funds.

"Three million (dollars) on a $90 million project -- obviously, there's a lot left. The key to the 401 project is to keep it on track, keep it on schedule," said DOT engineer Jon Nance.

That schedule has ground-breaking set for 2008. DOT officials said the $3 million may seem small, but it is enough to keep the Highway 401 project active in the state transportation improvement plan.