07/22/11 — Work on U.S. 70 ahead of schedule

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Work on U.S. 70 ahead of schedule

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 22, 2011 1:46 PM

Construction is ahead of schedule on the first segment of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass.

That section of the new, four-lane highway is expected to open to traffic as planned in November despite some additional work required because of an accelerated timetable for the rest of the $234 million project.

Part of a planned four-lane divided highway from Clayton to the coast, the entire Goldsboro Bypass could be completed by late 2015 or 2016, officials with the state Department of Transportation are saying.

As originally proposed, the bypass, extending from U.S 70 at N.C. 581 to Promise Road in Lenoir County, would not have been completed until sometime after 2030. However, last October the state Transportation Improvement Plan was amended to speed up the project.

"One of the things we have done is we added a little bit of work on this contract due to the fact that when we went into the project originally, we were not sure when the other segments of the Goldsboro Bypass were going to come along," DOT resident engineer Corey McLamb said. "Now these appear pretty much imminent to occur with the next year or so. There are things that we made some change to our current project to maybe better facilitate the tying in of the other projects.

"A lot of that area on the west side of the (Interstate) 795 interchange we were supposed to just basically leave the dirt high, put down some seed because we thought it was going to be left there for numerous years. Now we have negotiated with the contractor to go in and basically perform that work where they grade it, put down asphalt. They don't finish it but they get it up to the point that the next contract they can just tie in. We don't have a section of grade exposed. It is just minor things we are trying to look to prevent, as much as we can, any potential delays in the future traffic."

It is not unusual to have changes, particularly in a three-year contact, McLamb said. However, work is about 90 percent complete, compared to the anticipated 82 percent, on the A section that stretches from near Salem Church Road to just east of Wayne Memorial Drive.

"The intermediate completion date is Nov. 15 and then the overall contract completion date is Dec. 31," McLamb said. "That earlier completion date is basically for them to have traffic placed on that section. There could be some minor items left to do like planting of trees, various things that will not affect the safety of the motorists on the facility. We don't want to be holding up putting traffic onto a facility that is ready if we don't feel like there is any safety issues not to do that.

"There have been some contract adjustments throughout the life of the project that have granted some time. Technically now due to some of the extra work that we have done and granted some time there has been a revised completion date of March of 2012, but we are not anticipating anything to take this into the next year. I feel pretty confident it will be finished before the end of this year."

The state is using Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicles (GARVEE bonds) that allow the acceleration of federal funding to help finance projects sooner and avoid cost increases due to construction inflation. The N.C. General Assembly authorized the bonds, issued by the Office of the State Treasurer, in 2005.

Construction on the $65.5 million 4.2-mile first section got under way in September 2008 and is being done Barnhill Contracting Co. of Tarboro.

The western-most Section A was already scheduled to be bid in September when the fast-track schedule was announced. The five-mile stretch between N.C. 581 and Interstate 795 is expected to cost $73 million.

The 3.3-mile Section BB east of Wayne Memorial Drive to west of Creek Road (state road 1714) carries a $49 million price tag -- $10 million for right of way acquisition and $39 million for construction.

The 7.5-mile Section C west of Creek Road in Wayne County to east of Promise Land Road (state road 1323) in Lenoir County is expected to cost $57 million. Lenoir County is in Division 2.

Those two segments have been combined and will be let for bid as design/build projects at a cost of $106 million this fall. Design-build is a team approach that includes the engineer and contractor working together on a project from design to construction. Under design-bid parts of the project may still be in the design phase while other parts may be under construction.

"It (design-build) is a concept to maybe try to get a product on ground a little sooner than DOT's normal channels," McLamb said.

The state has narrowed the list of design-build teams to a short list to select from this fall. Construction should begin between October and December of next year, he said.

"I am looking forward to getting this (highway) opened up in a couple of years and start reaping the benefit of using it," McLamb said.