09/05/08 — Work to begin on U.S. 70 bypass

View Archive

Work to begin on U.S. 70 bypass

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 5, 2008 1:38 PM

Work on the first leg of the new U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass could get under way by the end of the month. The project was cleared to begin when the N.C. Transportation Board Thursday awarded a $65.5 million dollar contract to Barnhill Contracting Co. of Tarboro.

The first section of the new highway is located between I-795 and Wayne Memorial Drive.

The contract includes constructing the 3.91-mile, four-lane divided highway north of Goldsboro. Interchanges will be built at I-795, U.S. 117 and Wayne Memorial Drive.

Work is scheduled to begin as early as Sept. 29. Completion is expected by Dec. 31, 2011.

The Goldsboro Bypass is part of a planned four-lane divided highway from Clayton to the coast. The local overall project could cost about $234 million.

"I am thrilled to death," Wayne County Manager Lee Smith said. "Obviously it has been a long time coming. Wayne County and the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission knew that once we got one section (bid) let and started, the better chance we had of getting it (entire highway) built. It is the squeaky wheel -- if you are not out there, you won't get it."

Smith, who is a member of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, said one main concern is making U.S. 70 safer. That, he said, is particularly true in light of the faster traffic on I-795.

Smith said the U.S. 70 project will take longer than hoped because of the financial strain the state Department of Transportation is under.

The commission is comprised of representatives from all of the counties along the some 139-mile stretch of U.S. 70 from Clayton to the coast. While, not an official commission of state government, the commission has been working to secure the new U.S. 70.

The Goldsboro Bypass is scheduled to be built in four phases. It will start at N.C. 581 northwest of Goldsboro and tie back into the existing U.S. 70 near LaGrange.

The local project also includes a "retrofit" of the existing U.S. 70 to make safety improvements.

During a U.S. 70 Corridor Commission forum held this past May in Goldsboro, Jerry Page of the N.C. Dept. of Transportation said it could be at least 2015 or later before any other sections are funded.

The contract awarded Thursday will be funded through the use of Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles, commonly referred to as GARVEE bonds.

The bonds allow the acceleration of federal funding to help finance projects sooner and avoid cost increases due to construction inflation. They were authorized by the N.C. General Assembly in 2005 and are issued by the Office of the State Treasurer.

"The work on I-95 will provide a smoother, more comfortable ride for motorists on this major interstate, and the Goldsboro Bypass will help relieve the current congestion within the city," said board member Gus Tulloss of Rocky Mount who represents Transportation Division 4, which includes Wayne County.