Clayton Bypass to Open Year Early

Posted April 10, 2008 3:17 p.m. EDT
Updated April 10, 2008 6:39 p.m. EDT

— A new gateway to the east will soon be open in the Triangle. Department of Transportation officials say the U.S. Highway 70 Bypass project around Clayton is nearly a year ahead of schedule.

The four-lane, 11-mile stretch of highway from the Wake-Johnston county line to near Smithfield was supposed to be done in July 2009. DOT officials now say it should open this summer.

“We're anticipating it will alleviate a lot of traffic in Clayton. We have commuters heading to Raleigh, to Research Triangle,” said Berry Gray, Johnston County planning director. “Now we're anticipating that we'll see more growth spread east, more into central Johnston County.”

Towns like Smithfield expect to benefit. New construction has been underway for years in anticipation of the new highway.

“There's just a lot of people from the Triangle looking at this area, not only for commercial growth, but also office and residential,” said Downtown Smithfield Development Director Chris Johnson.

Johnson said he expects the bypass to cut out nearly a dozen stop lights and 15 minutes off the trip.

Allen Wellons is chairman of the Johnston County Economic Development Committee. He says smart growth has been the focus, making sure the county doesn't lose its identity as it expands.

“Well, I think there is always a downside to growth if you’re not prepared for it, but I think we are,” he said.

DOT officials say the drought helped push up the completion day, with plenty of dry days to work. The entire project is estimated to cost about $123 million.