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NCDOT Draft Transportation Plan Unveiled

Rendering of one of North Carolina’s new ferries. Image: NCDOT

From an Island Free Press report

The North Carolina Department of Transportation, or NCDOT, unveiled its draft 10-year transportation plan for 2020-2029 at the monthly Board of Transportation meeting in Raleigh Thursday, and the plan included the construction of a second passenger ferry for the Ocracoke-Hatteras route, beginning in 2027.

The draft 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program or STIP, includes seven new highway projects in Division 1, which covers Dare, Hyde, Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Gates, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties.

There are 19 new projects for Division 2, which cover Pitt, Beaufort, Greene, Craven, Lenoir, Pamlico, Jones and Carteret counties and 20 new projects for Division 3, which covers Sampson, Duplin, Onslow, Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties.

The department’s 10-year plan is updated every two years. Projects scheduled in the first five years of the plan are considered commitments, and were not re-evaluated when the new plan was developed.

But projects in the final five years of each 10-year plan are prioritized again for consideration in the next plan. The Board of Transportation is expected to consider final approval of the draft plan this summer.

The new projects for Division 1 include the following:

  • A second passenger ferry for the Ocracoke Express route between Hatteras and Ocracoke. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Roadway safety improvements for the two-lane section of U.S. 64 between Columbia and the Alligator River Bridge in Tyrrell County. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Roadway safety improvements for Newland Road between A Canal Road and Shore Drive in Washington County. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Roadway improvements for the two-lane section of N.C. 32 between N.C. 37 and the Virginia state line in Gates and Chowan counties. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Improvements for the intersection of U.S. 13/17 and Main Street in Williamston in Martin County. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Start of construction for improvements on Harvey Point Road between U.S. 17 and Churches Lane in Perquimans County moves from 2023 to 2020.
  • Upgrading two segments of U.S. 17 and converting intersection into interchanges between north of Wiggins Road and south of U.S. 17 Business in Perquimans County. The start of construction was adjusted to 2028 to allow additional time for planning and design.

“This updated transportation plan confirms NCDOT’s commitment to better, safer, more modern roads across rural northeastern North Carolina,” said Division One Transportation Board Member Allen Moran. “The new improvements to vital, two-lane highways and intersections will give our residents and visitors easier and safer access to jobs, education and other opportunities.”

The 19 new projects for Division 2 include the following:

  • Upgrade U.S. 70 to a freeway in Craven County between Grantham Road and the proposed Havelock Bypass. Construction starts in 2020.
  • Upgrade Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. in Craven County to a superstreet, or as referred to by the Federal Highway Administration, a main street with J-turns or restricted-crossing U-turns to alleviate congestion while increasing travel capacity and improving safety. Construction starts in 2029.
  • Install roundabouts on Emerald Drive at Loon Street, Coast Guard Road and Mangrove Drive in Carteret County. Construction starts in 2027.
  • Widen U.S. 17 to four lanes between Antioch Road and N.C. 43 in Bridgeton, Craven County, to assist with balancing funding, construction will start in 2024. This is the B section, as the A section was constructed years ago.

“I am extremely pleased with the projects that were included in the Transportation Improvement Program this cycle. These projects will enhance mobility, safety and improve the economic vitality of Eastern North Carolina,” Division 2 Engineer Preston Hunter said in a statement. “The projects selected will support growth and development in both our urban and rural areas.”

The 20 new projects for Division 3 include the following:

  • Improvements to West Corbett Avenue between Belgrade-Swansboro Road and Front Street in Onslow County by converting it from a five-lane road into a superstreet. Construction starts in 2029.
  • Widen N.C. 211 from two to four lanes in Brunswick County between Midway Road and Sunset Harbor Road. Construction starts in 2029.
  • New Route for Cape Fear Crossing, between U.S. 17 in Brunswick County and N.C. 133, and a new bridge over the Cape Fear River. Construction starts after 2029.
  • Convert Gordon Road from a two to four-lane road between Market Street and I-40 in New Hanover County. Construction starts in 2029.
  • Improve Access management to Market Street from CSX Railroad to Cinema Drive, Jacksonville Street to north of College Road, to better coordinate with the Independence Extension Project. Construction to start in 2025.
  • Convert U.S. 17 to a superstreet between Washington Acres Road and Sloop Point Loop Road in Pender County, to provide traffic with an alternate route until Hampstead Bypass is open, project to still let Sept. 2019, but construction to start in 2023.

“These new projects will be a major benefit for locals, as well as those traveling throughout our state,” said Michael Alford, a member of the state Board of Transportation who represents the division, in a statement. “These projects will improve congestion and promote economic development.”

The draft STIP includes projects across all transportation modes and in all 100 counties in the state. The list includes 1,266 highway projects, 86 aviation, 235 bicycle and pedestrian, six ferry, 23 public transit and 47 rail projects selected on statewide, regional and division levels. The projects were prioritized based on technical data as well as input from local officials and residents.

The draft plan includes about 500 changes in major highway projects from the current STIP. Half of the changes include new road projects. Also, there were about 200 projects where a schedule was changed for planning or budgeting needs, and 10 projects whose schedules were accelerated. A statewide list of these major highway changes can be found on the NCDOT STIP website.

Projects that did not score high enough in the evaluation process to be funded at the statewide level rolled over to the regional level for consideration. Projects that were not funded at the regional level could still be considered at the division level. This cascading aspect of the process helps ensure that local input plays an important role in prioritizing projects for funding.

Divisions 1, 2 and 3 will also host an in-house week-long public comment opportunity in February or March during normal business hours. It will be a chance for interested residents to review maps and handouts about projects, ask questions of local staff, and submit comments. There will also be an opportunity for residents to submit comments online, with those details being announced later.

This story is provided courtesy of the Island Free Press, a digital newspaper covering Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Coastal Review Online is partnering with the Free Press to provide readers with more environmental and lifestyle stories of interest along our coast.  

About the Author

Joy Crist

Joy Crist is a Hatteras Island resident since 1998 and a writer and columnist with the Island Free Press. Her work has also appeared in a number of regional Outer Banks and statewide websites and publications.