12/16/11 — Portion of U.S. 70 bypass opens today

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Portion of U.S. 70 bypass opens today

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 16, 2011 1:55 PM

The first leg of the U.S. 70 Bypass opened to traffic this afternoon after work crews late Thursday corrected a short list of issues that turned up during a Monday morning inspection of the highway.

"They started first thing this morning uncovering signs and removing barricades," said Corey McLamb, Department of Transportation Division 4 resident engineer. "Traffic will be on it when it officially opens this afternoon."

The road will be designated as N.C. 44 until the entire bypass is completed, McLamb said. At that time, the N.C. 44 signs will be replaced by U.S. 70 signs, he said.

Barnhill Contracting Co. of Tarboro began work on the 3.3-mile, $65.3 million section from just west of Salem Church Road to just east of Wayne Memorial Drive on Sept. 29, 2009.

Once completed, the 21-mile, $234 million bypass will stretch from N.C. 581 west of Goldsboro east to Promise Road in Lenoir County.

When the work first began, the project had not been expected to be completed for almost another 30 years.

However, the state Transportation Board in October 2010 combined the two eastern segments of the bypass into one $106 million project to speed up construction.

Those two sections consist of a 3.3-mile Section BB from just east of Wayne Memorial to west of Creek Road and the 7.5-mile Section C from west of Creek Road in Wayne County to east of Promise Land Road in Lenoir County.

A design/build method, which is different from the traditional approach of building a highway, will be used.

Normally, all of the right of way is acquired before work starts, but in a design/build project, a contractor teams up with an engineering firm and is responsible for the entire project instead of stringing it out over several steps allowing work to proceed as right of way is acquired.

Technical proposals for the eastern sections were to have been presented to the state this past Thursday and the cost proposals by next Tuesday. However, the technical proposal submittal has been pushed back to Jan. 23 .

The contract would be awarded shortly thereafter with work beginning about a year later.

The western-most Section A is scheduled to be bid next fall. The five-mile stretch between N.C. 581 and Interstate 795 is expected to cost $73 million.

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