12/22/05 — New section of U.S. 117 opens today

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New section of U.S. 117 opens today

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on December 22, 2005 1:52 PM

After nearly three years, the section of U.S. 117 near U.S. 70 will open to the public at about 3 p.m. today.

"This is a very important opening because it will allow people in the Wayne County and Goldsboro area to access U.S. 117 to Wilson. It will allow businesses and people south of Goldsboro to take the route, which is quicker and safer," said Mike McKeel, resident engineer for the state's Department of Transportation.

Since the highway is near interstate quality, he said the speed limit will be posted at 70 mph.

"It won't have the little curves and hills and towns and stoplights, so the speed limit will be 70," McKeel said.

County Commissioner Andy Anderson said he and many others throughout the region are excited about the grand opening.

"We really appreciate the state doing what they have done because it will be a real economic as well as safety asset to Wayne County. It has taken all of us to get this done," Anderson said. "We look forward to the full opening in 2006 and we hope we can show the state our appreciation then."

Traffic should be able to travel swiftly from the southern portions of Wayne County and Goldsboro to Wilson County. However, McKeel said drivers need to be careful on the newly opened road.

"There will be contractors working on the ins and outs of the project. Some of the large overhead signs are not up. We are asking people to use extreme caution and follow the signs that are up," McKeel said.

More caution will be necessary upon entering Wilson County. Since the final section of the corridor is not complete, McKeel said contractors will use the interchange of Alton Road to accept the traffic expected from the highway.

The section, which runs south of U.S. 70 to the proposed U.S. 264 bypass of Wilson, is one of the last projects contracted for the highway corridor. McKeel said the remainder of the corridor should be completed by the summer.