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N.C.'s toll road construction will mean thousands of jobs

Posted July 30, 2009 5:55 p.m. EDT

— The state's first toll road could help pave the way to economic recovery.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority said Thursday that it estimates that construction on the 18.8-mile Triangle Expressway will support about 13,800 jobs over the next three years.

Planning and surveying work are already under way, and construction is expected to begin in mid-August on the two remaining stretches of the three-part highway.

Funding for the $1 billion project was secured through a $386 million federal loan and $624 million in bonds.

For Wilson-based S.T. Wooten Corp., which was awarded a $135.4 million contract to build the Triangle Parkway, that means rehiring former employees. The company has had to lay off approximately 200 people because of the economy.

"We will bring a lot of our own people back to work, first. Some have been out as long as a year," said Jonathan Bivens, S.T. Wooten's vice president. "Then, we'll make the determination of how many more we need to hire."

The company has hired the firm RK&K to do design work on the project. Subcontractor Tommy Peacock said that in the current economy, maintaining jobs is as important as creating them.

"(The toll road project) is going to have a big impact on our people and our staff," subcontractor Peacock said. "It's going to keep a lot of people busy for the next couple of years.

"We have about 50 people in our Raleigh office," he added. "Most everybody will be involved in the design of this project."

The Triangle Parkway, runs from N.C. Highway 147 in Durham to N.C. Highway 540 in Morrisville, and could open as early as 2011.

The Western Wake Freeway, which runs 12.6 miles from N.C. Highway 55 near Research Triangle Park to N.C. 55 between Holly Springs and Apex, could open by 2012. The Raleigh/Durham Road Builders bid more than $446 million for the project.

The Northern Wake Expressway is already open. It stretches 2.8 miles from N.C. Highway 54 in Morrisville to N.C. 55 near the Research Triangle Park.