09/21/08 — Committee sets sight on lobbying for U.S. 70

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Committee sets sight on lobbying for U.S. 70

By Steve Herring
Published in News on September 21, 2008 7:27 AM

Wayne County Manager Lee Smith is among members of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission who have been appointed to the commission's new Legislative Steering Committee.

The committee was appointed was week during the commission's meeting at Kinston.

"In January, we will start lobbying legislators for more emphasis on U.S. 70, old and new," Smith said. "We will look at how we approach our legislators. We have got the state's attention. We have got to lobby legislators. We realize funds are tight. We have got to have our plans ready when we ask for money."

Former N.C. Department of Transportation division engineer Jim Trogden, who is now a member of the 21st Century Transportation Committee, made a PowerPoint presentation.

Trogden spoke about how revenues are a real problem, Smith said. People are driving less and more alternate sources of fuel are being used, he added.

"DOT's main revenue is generated by fuel sales," Smith said. "We are going to have to migrate from that."

Also at the meeting were DOT board members Marvin Blount, Cam McRae and Gus Tulloss all of whom made brief comments.

"They and the commission say we have to ensure U.S. 70 is a strategic corridor and that we move it up on the state priority list," Smith said.

McRae was recognized for his efforts on behalf of the commission.

Commission members signed a memo of understanding for the DOT to study congestion problems at James City in Craven County.

Also included in the memo was the intersection of N.C. 258 and U.S. 70 at Kinston.

Smith said that while en route to the meeting he came upon a traffic accident at that intersection that claimed three lives -- two at the scene and one of a victim who died later at the hospital.

"The stoplight there is not the answer," Smith said. "We have got to do something. U.S. 70 is dangerous. This wreck proved the point. We have got to do something in these critical areas. The issue is first and foremost safety."

Smith said a groundbreaking will be scheduled for first leg of U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass. A $65.5 million contract for that project was awarded earlier this month to Barnhill Contracting Co. of Tarboro.

The first section of the new highway is located between I-795 and Wayne Memorial Drive. Work is scheduled to begin as early as Sept. 29. Completion is expected by Dec. 31, 2011.

The project 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.