CLAYTON, N.C. — The state Department of Transportation gave a tour Thursday of the new U.S. Highway 70 Bypass project around Clayton.
The four-lane, 10.7 mile stretch of highway from the Wake-Johnston county line to near Smithfield is scheduled to open June 9 – more than a year ahead of schedule. DOT officials said the project was originally to be completed by June 2009.
“The contractor played a big role in that. They were very aggressive in pursuing the construction schedule,” said Wendi Johnson, DOT division construction engineer.
Johnson said dry weather and the DOT’s project team also kept work moving.
The bypass has 22 bridges, four interchanges, 11 DOT cameras and four message signs with estimated drive times.
“We have the devices in a couple of locations, but this will be the first deployment of travel times,” DOT engineer Sherry Yow said. The DOT hopes to use the travel time devices across the state.
The project, budgeted at $123 million, will cost more than $126 million. Johnson said a lot of the overruns are due to fuel escalation changes.
The bypass project has focused on protecting wildlife and the environment. A wired fence currently runs the length of the project and helps to funnel deer and other animals under the bypass. Water quality sensors are also setup in area waterways to ensure they aren’t damaged and animals aren’t threatened.
The bypass is Johnston County’s largest road project since Interstate 40 was built.
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.
When completed the speed limit will be 70 mph and will help save about 15 minutes of drive time, DOT officials said.
DOT officials said additional congestion may occur during the morning rush hour where the bypass merges with I-40.