03/21/13 — Bypass work on schedule

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Bypass work on schedule

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 21, 2013 1:46 PM


Heavy equipment works on the western section of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass near Lane Tree Golf Club. Work on the eastern and final section of the highway is expected to begin later this month. Scheduled for completion by the fall of 2015, the bypass will stretch from N.C. 581 west of Goldsboro to Promise Land Road in Lenoir County.

Construction on the eastern and final leg of the $246 million U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass is expected to start later this month. The completed bypass is anticipated to open in the fall of 2015.

The state Department of Transportation also is continuing to look at potential safety projects for U.S. 117 at Dudley and Mount Olive. The most recent project is a possible interchange at Country Club Road just north of Mount Olive.

The slightly more-than-22-mile, four-lane, divided Goldsboro Bypass is being built in three sections. The first, from Wayne Memorial Drive to just west of Interstate 795, opened in December of 2011 and is designated as N.C. 44 until the road is completed.

The bypass project begins just west of N.C. 581 near Community Drive and swings just north of Goldsboro before ending in Lenoir County near the U.S. 70 intersection with Promise Land Road.

Work already is under way on the 5.9-mile western section that stretches from U.S. 70 West to I-795. The 12.5-mile eastern section goes from Wayne Memorial Drive east to Promise Land Road.

"The western side is slightly ahead of schedule," DOT District 3 engineer Chris Pendergraph said. "They are doing really good, but you know one bad week of weather can set them behind. But right now things are looking real good on that western side.

"On the eastern side, they have just applied for their last permit basically that they need to get started. They anticipate getting started later this month with actual construction."

Also this month, work is scheduled to begin to construct a left turn lane and traffic light at Wayne Memorial Drive and Saulston Road. Some "very preliminary" work has started, Pendergraph said.

"We have kind of been held up with some environmental permit issues," he said. "We didn't anticipate having to get a certain permit, and it ended up that we did. We had to install a long run of pipe on the south side of the intersection, but other than that we have kind of had to stop on that until that last permit is secured. We anticipate it coming in any day now. We hope that project will be finished about the end of the month."

The Country Club Road intersection and one north of Mount Olive at O'Berry Road at Dudley are being considered as part of ongoing efforts to make the necessary improvements to U.S. 117 to earn its designation as a freeway or even the extension of I-795.

Funds already have been approved for designing an interchange at O'Berry Road, which would eliminate the only traffic light on U.S. 117 between the Wayne County Fairgrounds near U.S. 13 and Interstate 40 in Duplin County.

No funds have been appropriated for construction.

As originally planned, building the O'Berry Road interchange would have resulted in closing the median where Country Club Road crosses U.S. 117.

However, the DOT has now requested funds to design an interchange to replace the existing intersection at U.S. 117 and Country Club Road. Pendergraph said he is optimistic the funding request will be approved.

"Country Club Road was going to be closed at the median," he said. "I don't know if it was through the corridor plan or the early makings of the corridor plan, but now we are actually planning on an interchange there at Country Club. I know that will be pleasing to a lot of locals down there.

"It is going to be a shelf project. I don't think funding is there yet for either interchange. It will take care of the design and go ahead and kind of begin the initial environmental assessment needs, which will tell us what kind of permits we will need to get. Then basically, it will be shelved until funded. It is ready to construct, so as soon as construction money is found, it is ready to go."

Construction of an interchange at the site is a priority of Mount Olive's Comprehensive Transportation Plan.

Even though there is no guarantee that an interchange will be built, the news has been greeted with relief by Mount Olive officials who had feared the town would be isolated as improvements to U.S. 117 closed certain intersections, including Country Club Road.

"I knew they were seeking such funding for it," Mount Olive Town Manager Charles Brown said. "It is exciting to hear they are working in that direction. I think everybody in Mount Olive would be glad to see that happen."

Brown, a member the transportation-planning Eastern Carolina Rural Planning Organization, said a state survey crew was at the intersection Friday afternoon.

The highway is very closely tied to the future of Mount Olive, Brown said.