11/14/11 — U.S. 70 on track for 2016

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U.S. 70 on track for 2016

By Steve Herring
Published in News on November 14, 2011 1:46 PM

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Allison Carter

Cars on Interstate 795 pass the new exit ramp to Wayne Memorial Drive Wednesday afternoon. The construction began Sept. 29, 2009, and is expected to be completed by late 2015 or early 2016.

Traffic could be moving on the first section of the new U.S. 70 bypass before the end of the year, state highway officials say.

At about the same time, bids should be ready to be awarded for work on the next two sections -- both farther east.

The final section, between Salem Church Road and N.C. 581, is on schedule to be awarded in June, keeping the $234 million project on track to be open to traffic by late 2015 or 2016.

As originally envisioned, the bypass would not have been completed for almost another 30 years.

However, in October of last year, the state Board of Transportation amended the State Transportation Improvement Plan to speed up the two sections of the bypass east of the work now being done between Wayne Memorial Drive and Interstate 795.

That means the entire bypass could be completed within the next four years.

Barnhill Contracting Co. of Tarboro began work Sept. 29, 2009, on the first leg of the project, a 4.2-mile, $65.3 million section between Salem Church Road and Wayne Memorial Drive.

"Pretty much all of the paving is completed," said Corey McLamb, Division 4 resident engineer. "They are in the short rows. They should start pavement marking shortly."

McLamb said he is working with the contractor to develop a list of the smaller jobs remaining to be done. Barnhill is pushing to complete the work by the end of November, he said.

However, it is possible that some issues could still crop up that could move the schedule back some, he said.

The two eastern sections of the bypass have been combined -- the 3.3-mile Section BB from just east of Wayne Memorial to west of Creek Road (Secondary Road 1714) and the 7.5-mile Section C west of Creek Road in Wayne County to east of Promise Land Road (Secondary Road 1323) in Lenoir County.

That portion of the project is expected to cost $106 million.

They will be built using design/build which is different from the traditional approach of building a highway. Traditionally all of the right of way is acquired before work starts.

In a design/build project, a contractor will team up with an engineering firm and will be responsible for the entire project instead of stringing it out over several steps. That will allow work to proceed as right of way is acquired.

The technical proposals from the four-team short list of design/build teams are scheduled to be submitted to the state on Dec. 15 and the cost proposals by Dec. 20.

The work would be awarded shortly thereafter, McLamb said.

As a rule of thumb, work begins about a year after the contract is awarded, meaning work would not start until late 2012, he said.

The western-most Section A was already scheduled to be bid in the fall of 2012. The 5-mile stretch between N.C. 581 and Interstate 795 is expected to cost $73 million.

The Goldsboro bypass is part of a planned four-lane divided highway from Clayton to the coast. The entire 21-mile Goldsboro bypass could be completed by late 2015 or 2016, officials with the state Department of Transportation are saying.

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 General Assembly authorized the bonds, issued by the Office of the State Treasurer, in 2005.