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North Carolina Road Construction Projects Hit a Pothole

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — When you are driving and spot those orange and white bells, you know it means a delay. Now, the new road building projects are also being delayed.

Thursday, the State released its early plans for North Carolina's new road improvement program.

The reason for pushing back hundreds of projects across the state is simple. The construction budget is more than $2 billion short.

Construction like that being completed on I-40 will be pushed back across the state, and that includes many much-needed highways.

Projects or parts of projects like Raleigh's outer loop will be delayed two years. The State is getting more federal money, but overruns and inflation overlooked in the past are landing construction in a pothole.

"We have tried not to drop projects, just move them back in the schedule in order to accommodate the balance issue," explained Norris Tolson, the secretary of theDepartment of Transportation.

Tolson told the Board of Transportation money will be spent on safety.

"Fifty-six median guard-rail projects are in that document including 992 miles of highways across the state at a cost of about $118 million," said Tolson.

The plan is only in draft form now. Government, businesses and citizens will have until next June to comment.

"I suspect there will be people who will be disappointed," said Tolson. "The important thing about this TIP is that when we nail it down and send it to the feds next July, it will be almost like a construction schedule."

Shifts in priority are expected, but D.O.T. says it is going to get on the right track on road construction.

An audit of D.O.T.'s construction programs resulted in this re-worked construction timeline.

Tolson says plans to alleviate traffic problems in Research Triangle Park are being handled separately.

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Tom Lawrence, Reporter
Robert Meikle, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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