07/13/14 — Highway planning advances

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Highway planning advances

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 13, 2014 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The state is continuing to refine designs for the extension of I-795 between Goldsboro and I-40 in Sampson County.

The I-795 design committee will meet July 30 in Raleigh. Along with a feasibility study being conducted on the project, the state also is looking at the highway's economic impact.

There are four alternates for the middle section from Goldsboro to just past the Wayne County Fairgrounds, said Mount Olive Town Manager Charles Brown, a member of the Down East Rural Planning Organization.

"One of the things that wasn't on the (earlier) plans at the time was a crossover or grade separation at West Main Street. We got that added. That should show the value that if you are not there, you might get overlooked because they were getting ready to finalize the thing, and we were like, 'Look, we need that crossing there.' So they added that," Brown said.

"The thing is our end of it, really from the fairgrounds to I-40 in Sampson County, is pretty straightforward because you basically have a limited access highway now. They will have to do some median work and work on the shoulders. They will have to build interchanges at O'Berry Road and Country Club Road, but they already own right-of-way for that. I believe they have some right-of-way at Smith Chapel (Road) and Lees Country Club (Road)."

The idea is to realign Smith Chapel Road with Lees Country Club Road to make it one access point, Brown said.

Interchanges also would be added at West Trade Road, Calypso and N.C. 50 near Faison.

The existing interchange at N.C. 55 would be redesigned and improved as well, Brown said

Service roads would be built parallel to the four-lane to provide access to areas that would lose direct access to the highway.

"There would be a grade separation at West Main Street which, as you know, now you can't cross over there," Brown said. "Grade separation means you can't get on or off the Interstate, but you can cross over it.

"Because of the proximity of that to the university they will make provisions for bicyclists and pedestrians on that grade separation."

There is no time table for the project, he said.

The first thing to be done is to ask Congress for the "Interstate shield," just like what was done on the northern end, Brown said.

"As I said our end is the simpler part," Brown said. "It is the middle part where you have FEMA buyout property. You have wetlands. You have historic sites. Then you have residential areas and then you have all of those businesses in there.

"I think they are probably leaning, at this point in time, to go slightly west of all of that commercial development right there between the fairgrounds, and I guess where the (U.S.) 117-70 split is. That will be the tricky part because it will involve property acquisitions and things like that.