Detours, lane-closure bottlenecks and slowdowns motorists have dealt with more than two years on U.S. 117 South between Mount Olive and Dudley will continue in other areas of the county as the state begins nearly $430 million in highway improvement projects.
Upgrading the U.S. 117 corridor and a section of U.S. 70 West to interstate standards accounts for $357 million with the remainder split between four Goldsboro projects.
Several road projects are still under design, others are expected to start later this year and some are nearly a decade away.
The N.C. Department of Transportation projects include:
• Wayne Memorial Drive widening: Construction bids open in September with construction to begin in 2020.
• U.S. 70 West: Bids will be received in December from design-build teams, with construction starting in 2021. A public meeting on the project will be Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. at Grace Baptist Church, 220 Barden St. in Princeton.
• North William Street (U.S. 117 Business) widening: Scheduled to let contracts (open bids and awarded) in March 2020. Right of way is purchased and affected utilities have been relocated.
• East Ash Street widening: Still under design. Construction slated to start in 2021.
• Berkeley Boulevard (U.S. 13) widening: Still under design. Scheduled to be awarded in 2023.
• U.S. 117 corridor: More public meetings will be scheduled in spring 2022 to review more detailed designs and studies. The final environmental decision document is targeted for winter 2023-24, which will include the recommended/selected alternative.
The improvements will require motorists to make adjustments to their driving habits, since the U.S. 117 and U.S. 70 projects will eliminate direct access to those roads while the Goldsboro projects will eliminate open center turn lanes and most left turns.
WAYNE MEMORIAL DRIVE
Several projects are planned on Wayne Memorial Drive.
A $3.2 million project includes the construction of raised medians from Lockhaven Drive to Country Day Road.
The road also will be widened to four lanes between New Hope Road and the new U.S. 70 Bypass. Right-of-way acquisition will begin this year with construction to start in spring 2021 on the $14.4 million project.
The widening is not expected to affect any houses but could affect the operation of a convenience store located at the corner of Wayne Memorial Drive and Tommy’s Road.
Another project in the N.C. Department of Transportation’s new draft 10-year transportation plan calls for widening the road to four lanes between the U.S. 70 Bypass and Saulston Road.
Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled in 2027 and 2028 and construction in 2029. It may take two to three years to complete construction.
A public meeting will be held at a later date on the project.
U.S. 70 WEST
The U.S. 70 West project is the latest in the state’s efforts to upgrade the U.S. 70 corridor to interstate standards from Interstate 40 to Morehead City.
The corridor has received federal designation as the future Interstate 42. The road’s existing intersections, traffic signals and median crossovers will be replaced with interchanges and overpasses. Direct access to the highway will be closed.
The 6.7-mile project straddles the Wayne-Johnston county line stretching from the western end of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass in Wayne County to just west of Pondfield Road in Johnston County.
The Wayne County end, 3.45 miles from just east of Earl Drive at the western end of the U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass to just west of Luby Smith Road, is expected to cost $62.9 million.
The second part of the project, which is mostly in Johnston County, stretches from just west of Luby Smith Road to just east of Pondfield Road and is estimated to cost $62 million.
The project website can be found at https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/us-70-corridor/Pages/default.aspx.
NORTH WILLIAM STREET
Right-of-way acquisition will affect more than 80 parcels of property along North William Street, also U.S. 117 North, for a $21 million highway improvement plan.
The project will transform the street into a four-lane, median-divided highway between U.S. 70 and the new U.S. 70 Bypass. North William Street currently varies from two to four lanes and is either undivided or features two-way left-turn lanes for the median.
The state plans to widen the street to 12-foot-wide inside lanes and 14-foot-wide outside lanes to accommodate bicycle traffic. The project also includes a 17.6-foot median from the U.S. 70 westbound ramp to Tommy’s Road to reduce traffic conflict points and improve north-south traffic flow.
Some sections of the median will be grass, while the narrower sections, where turns will be allowed, will be concrete. Median openings will be installed at select locations along the street to accommodate U-turns and left-turning traffic from side streets.
The U.S. 117 Alternate and North William Street intersection will be realigned to reduce conflicting turning movements where there are no signals.
EAST ASH STREET
The $22.5 million East Ash Street plan will eliminate most left turns. Roundabouts will replace three intersections, and there will be no dedicated left turn lanes. All U-turns will be made by using a roundabout.
Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled this year and into 2020. Four buildings, two of which are currently empty, will be affected by the widening. Construction is planned to start in 2021 and take three years to complete.
The plan is to widen what is now a three-lane road into four lanes, separated by a median. Sidewalks will be constructed on both sides of the road and will be up to 10 feet wide in areas near Greenwood Middle and Meadow Lane Elementary schools.
The stoplight at the schools will be eliminated and a high-visibility pedestrian crosswalk added with a flashing light. Pedestrians will be able to press a button to activate the light. Curb and gutter will also be added along the entire stretch.
Roundabouts will be constructed at Ash Street’s intersections with Malloy Street, Oak Forest Road and Commercial Drive/Meadow Road. According to DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale, roundabouts reduce the risk of crashes, especially serious ones, because drivers slow down to about 15 mph and travel in one direction when driving through them.
The design also eliminates the stop-and-go nature of a conventional intersection, and in areas where roundabouts are used, serious crashes are reduced by 75 percent, he said.
Most left turns will be eliminated along Berkeley Boulevard and replaced with directional turns using a raised median.
Motorists will have to turn right out of driveways and side roads and travel to the nearest intersection or designated left turn to make a U-turn to head in the opposite direction. Existing middle open turn lanes also will be eliminated under the state’s plans to widen the road into four lanes between New Hope and Saulston roads.
Traffic signals at New Hope Road, Tommy’s Road and at Hood Swamp Road will be upgraded. Additionally, Hood Swamp Road and Central Heights Road will be realigned to create safer intersections at U.S. 13 and improve driver visibility. The northern end of Central Heights Road will no longer tie into U.S. 13.
The project, estimated to cost $25 million, is scheduled to be awarded in 2023.
U.S. 117 CORRIDOR
Planning and design are underway for a $227 million project to upgrade the approximately 24-mile stretch of the U.S. 117 corridor between Goldsboro and Interstate 40 in Sampson County into an extension of Interstate 795. The corridor includes the U.S. 117 Connector between Calypso and Interstate 40 in Sampson County, N.C. 403, U.S. 13 and N.C. 581.
Public meetings will be scheduled this winter to review conceptual designs with agencies, local officials and the public. At that time, the project team will request input to improve design options and to help identify design options that will proceed forward.
More public meetings will be scheduled in the spring of 2022 to review more detailed designs and studies with agencies, local officials and the public. The final environmental decision document is targeted for winter 2023-24, which will include the recommended/selected alternative.
Some of the road will be built on a new location, particularly in the northern 6.5 miles of existing U.S. 117 from U.S. 117 Alternate to north of N.C. 581, also Ash Street. The section of highway has no access control and has numerous driveways, two at-grade railroad crossings, controlled by crossing gates, and 22 at-grade intersections. Nine intersections have traffic signals, and 13 are controlled by stop signs.
This portion of the project corridor has the most adjacent development, has numerous engineering and environmental constraints and will require the most extensive upgrades.
As a freeway, the road will have full access control with interchanges or grade separations at major road and railroad crossings. There will be no at-grade access.
About 7 miles of the proposed route — roughly between Country Club Road at Mount Olive and Genoa Road at Dudley — is currently funded in the State Transportation Improvement Program, which has property acquisition scheduled to begin in 2025 and construction to start in 2027.
The project includes new bridges and ramps on U.S. 117 to replace at-grade intersections at O’Berry Road in Dudley and Country Club Road in Mount Olive.
The O’Berry Road project is completed and work is continuing on the interchange that will take U.S. 117 over Country Club Road.
A third related project will realign Smith Chapel Road with Lee’s Country Club Road just south of Mount Olive where an interchange will be built. It also includes constructing a new connector road along U.S. 117 in the area.
The estimated cost is $28.5 million with right-of-way acquisition to start in 2024 followed by construction in 2026 and 2027.
The U.S. 117 project is broken down into four parts:
• North of Country Club Road in Mount Olive to south of South Landfill Road at Dudley; $17.3 million; right of way, 2025; construction, 2027.
• South of South Landfill Road to south of Genoa Road; $35 million; right of way, 2025; construction in 2027.
• South of Genoa Road to south of Arrington Bridge Road (N.C. 581); $62.4 million; unfunded for future years past 2027.
• South of Arrington Bridge Road (N.C. 581) to north of West Ash Street (N.C. 581); $111.3 million; unfunded for future years past 2027.
The project webpage can be found at https://www.ncdot.gov/projects/us-117-goldsboro/Pages/default.aspx