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NCDOT's New Transportation Plan and Future Interstate Construction

On January 10, NCDOT released its Draft 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program (or STIP) to public comment. The document provides a list of funded transportation projects for the state over the next 10 years.
The document has both good and bad news for supporters of the many future Interstate routes the state plans to build over the next decade or two. The document lists each project by NCDOT Division, the estimated cost (and funding source) for each, and a timetable for Right-of-Way purchase and project construction. The information is presented in tables such as the one below (this for the I-74 section of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway):

This post will summarize what the Draft STIP has revealed for new Interstate projects for the next 10 years. For current project information, feel free to check out my I-73/I-74 in North Carolina and Future North Carolina Interstate sites.

The major project to start in 2019 is the US 70 Havelock Bypass, a $221 million highway that will route the future interstate north of the city, construction is to be completed in 2022. Other projects (R-5777 and U-5713) are upgrading of existing US 70 to Interstate standards north (east) from the Bypass toward the Neuse River Bridge in James City, one of the project has started and both are to be complete by 2023. Other projects will expand the shoulders of existing US 70 to interstate standards as part of repaving projects. Project I-6002 and I-6004 will start at the same time, the former upgrading US 70 in Craven and Jones County, the latter in Johnston County from Buffaloe Road to the Wayne County line later this year. More long term, Project R-2553 will upgrade US 70 to interstate standards between the eastern end of the Goldsboro Bypass and the western end of the US 70 freeway east of Kinston. Work is to start on the 3 segments of this project between 2025 and 2029.

For Interstate 73, there were no projects listed regarding the upgrade of existing US 220 from NC 68 to the Virginia border in the STIP, evaluated projects scored to low to make the document. There is though a project that will upgrade the existing US 311 North/NC 135 interchange and widen the bridge over US 220 (I-5898). This project will start in 2021. At the southern end, better news for Rockingham area construction. The date for the start of construction for the planned I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass was moved up from 2026 to 2020. The project will be let in October 2019. If construction goes as planned, the route should be completed by 2023. Along with the Bypass the US 74 (Future I-73/I-74) interchange with US 1 will be upgraded under Project I-5979 to start in 2022, this will be at the eastern end of the Bypass project which will also be upgrading 2 miles of US 74 to meet interstate standards. The STIP has no mention of the segment of I-73 to be built towards the South Carolina border, which is contingent with that state making a decision about building their section of I-73.

Good and bad news regarding the completion of I-74. The good news (besides the Rockingham Bypass shared with I-73) is that work on the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway Eastern Section (Project U-2579) is proceeding. The STIP notes that construction is underway from Business 40/US 421 west to US 52. The first section from Business 40 to US 158 should be complete by the end of this year. Construction to extend the route (to initially be designated NC 74) to US 311 should be finished in 2021, the remainder to US 52 in 2023. Work is also to start on the segment that will complete the route from the (now officially former) US 311 freeway to Business 40 in 2020. In southeastern North Carolina projects to fund the upgrade of US 74 both from the end of the Rockingham Bypass (I-6055) and, new to the STIP, from NC 41 near Lumberton to US 76 near Chadbourn (I-6011) are funded, good news, but aren't currently planned to start until 2029. Work continues meanwhile along US 74 in that area to modify at-grade intersections to interchanges. The next project according to the STIP is upgrading the 2 intersections with NC 71 and NC 130 to a single interchange. Work to start in 2022. Meanwhile, the project that would upgrade the Laurinburg Bypass and connect to the completed section of I-74 in Robeson County remains unfunded, and thus not to be constructed until after 2029. A project to upgrade US 74/76 to interstate standards between NC 87 and Wilmington did not score high enough to be included in the STIP. Interchange upgrades though continue east of Whiteville with work on a new Hallsboro Rd interchange (R-5749) in progress to be completed in 2021 and another project (R-5820) to build an interchange at the current Chauncey Town Road intersection scheduled to start in 2025.

Work to expand this new route's footprint in the state are numerous in the STIP, particularly for the US 64 segment, but completion is still at least another decade away. Pavement rehabilitation projects that will also widen shoulders to Interstate standards include R-6041 and R-6046 that will upgrade US 64 between I-95 and NC 33 in Nash and Edgecombe Counties starting in 2020. Another project R-6042 will repave US 64 from NC 33 to the Martin County Line starting in 2022, however most, if not all of the shoulders, are already up to standards east of Tarboro. Right-of-Way for a project (U-6149) that will upgrade US 64 from NC 58 in Nash County to Thomas Road in Edgecombe County is to commence in 2025, but construction is not currently scheduled to start until after 2029. No projects to upgrade US 64 between the current end of I-87 in Wendell to NC 58 were included. Several possible projects upgrading the US 17 segment were left out of the STIP. The project in the previous STIP to upgrade US 17 from the north end of the Elizabeth City Bypass to the Virginia line was dropped due to low prioritization scores. One that was included, R-5869 is to upgrade intersections along the Hertford Bypass in Perquimans County to interchanges but this project was pushed back from 2025 to 2028 and originally included upgrading the Bypass as well. Meanwhile, work to complete the signing of the existing portion of I-87 from I-40 to Wendell should take place by this summer.

There are two projects to take place in 2019 that will widen shoulders on segments of US 264 to Interstate standards as part of repaving projects. Project I-6032 will improve US 264 in Greene County while Project I-6035 will do the same in Pitt County at the eastern end of the future interstate. These will be paid for in part by Garvee Bonds which borrow against future transportation funds. Since US 264 in Wilson County is already up to Interstate standards (and a few miles of it are I-795) this leaves the section between US 64 and Wilson County to be improved. There are no projects listed in the Draft STIP to do this, however.

New to the 2020-2029 version of the STIP is a project to upgrade US 29 to Interstate standards between Hicone Road (just north of the Greensboro Loop interchange) to Reidsville. The project (R-5889) is not starting until 2027 though. The remainder of US 29 in North Carolina from Reidsville to the Virginia line is already Interstate standard.

The STIP contains two projects regarding the extension of I-795 almost 30 miles from Goldsboro south to I-40 near Faison. Project U-3125C would improve US 117 to Interstate standards from Country Club Road (where a new interchange has just been opened replacing an intersection) south to S. Landfill Road. Project U-3215D would upgrade US 117 between S. Landfill Road and Genoa Road. Right-of-Way purchases for both sections is to start in 2025 while construction is to start in 2027. The remaining 4 sections, two north toward Goldsboro and two south to I-40, will be built after 2029. 

The STIP table accelerates the timeline for completing the I-840 section of the Greensboro Urban Loop from Lawndale Drive to US 29. The Project (U-2525C) now is to be completed in 2021 instead of 2022. 

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