09/26/07 — U.S. 70 bypass to get first bids soon

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U.S. 70 bypass to get first bids soon

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on September 26, 2007 2:00 PM

With plans being made to begin the bidding process as early as spring 2008, work on the U.S. 70 bypass around Goldsboro could start sometime within the next 12 to 18 months, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation's 2007-2013 Transportation Improvement Plan.

"They're letting the bids on the first section, between U.S. 117 and Wayne Memorial Drive, in spring 2008," Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said.

He explained that it's common practice for DOT to begin a project such as the bypass in the middle.

"They always build the middle first and then fix the ends, so you don't have a road to nowhere," he said. "By letting the bids and getting this thing started, it's like getting that first piece of the puzzle.

"It's saying that we've started and we've got to finish. It's a good sign."

The Goldsboro bypass is being divided up into four parts. When complete, the four-lane freeway will run a total of 20.6 miles from Wayne to Lenoir county.

And while DOT is currently still in the process of acquiring all of the necessary right-of-ways, the U.S. 117 bypass to Wayne Memorial Drive is just the first phase.

The second is from the intersection of U.S. 70 and N.C. 581 to the U.S. 117 bypass. Bids for that phase are scheduled to be let in either 2012 or 2013.

The third phase, then, is from Wayne Memorial to Parkstown Road, while the fourth will run from Parkstown Road to U.S. 70 in LaGrange. Those two parts, however, are beyond the current seven-year improvement plan, and have not been scheduled yet.

The total project is expected to cost approximately $234 million.

And right now, Smith continued, it appears to be on schedule.

"They've been trying to expedite this. It's pretty much on time with what we thought," he said.

The creation of the Goldsboro bypass, though, is just one piece of the U.S. 70 Strategic Highway Corridor project.

With U.S. 70 serving as one of North Carolina's primary east-west routes, the goal of the project is to improve speed and access between Raleigh, Morehead City and all the cities in between, including Clayton, Smithfield, Golds-boro, Kinston and Havelock.

It's a route that is used not only by vacationing beach traffic, but also by freight moving to and from the deep-water port in Morehead City and the air-truck transfer facility at the Global Transpark in Kinston. The corridor also serves Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro and Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in Havelock.

Work on the improvement project began in 2004, with the $179 million Clayton bypass expected to be complete by fall 2008.

Shortly thereafter, as work begins on the Goldsboro bypass, right-of-way acquisition for the $65 million Beufort bypass is expected to begin in 2008, while for the $117 million Havelock bypass, it is expected to begin in 2010.

Construction dates, however, have not been set for either. Right-of-way acquisition and construction dates also have not been set for the $130 million Kinston bypass or the $181 million North Carteret bypass.