A project to ease traffic congestion around the back gate of Cherry Point Marine Air Station has been approved by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

The Slocum Flyover project, which aims to build a flyover bridge from U.S. 70 East to the Slocum Gate at Cherry Point, is expected to begin work later this summer.

The ramp will include a 250-foot bridge over U.S. 70 designed to serve motorists coming to and leaving from the base. It is designed to relieve traffic congestion on both Slocum Road and U.S. 70 and, it is hoped, reduce the number of traffic accidents.

NCDOT communications officer Brian Rick confirmed Friday that a $24.3 million contract has been awarded to S.T. Wooten Corporation in Wilson to complete the project.

Rick also confirmed that some land near the highway and base will need to be acquired by NCDOT to complete the project, though no eminent domain claims had been filed as of Friday that he was aware of. The state has set aside a little over $5 million to acquire the land needed to complete the flyover bridge.

In addition to the bridge, the project also calls for changes to be made to a local subdivision.

The entrance to the MacDonald Downs subdivision will close and be routed away from U.S. 70 at Pine Grove Road to the Marsha's Way Extrusion. The City of Havelock is also partnering with DOT to build a 10-foot pedestrian and bike path to connect the new entrance area with MacDonald Downs, Tucker Creek Subdivision and Tucker Creek Middle School.

Havelock Planning Director Katrina Marshall said the city will have to move some water and sewer lines before the project can begin.

Rick said the Slocum project could begin as early as July 31 and will be complete in March 2020. The project will require some road closures, but no detours have yet been proposed.

Dustin George can be reached at 252-559-1077 or Dustin.George@Kinston.com.