Study to look at economic impacts along U.S. 70

Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 06:55 PM.

MOREHEAD CITY — The U.S. 70 Corridor Commission announced plans for a study that would look at economic development impacts of a four-lane, freeway bypass system from Raleigh to the coast.

“This analysis has extraordinary implications for the economic development of counties along these highway corridors,” said Durwood Stephenson, commission chairman.

Cambridge Systematics has been hired for the study, for which the N.C. Department of Transportation is paying $225,000 plus an additional, and as yet undetermined, cost for the conversion of N.C. 117 to Interstate 795 from Goldsboro to I-40.

Jim Martin, former state governor when the Highway Trust Fund was established, said the fund was created to handle such projects.

“It was the Highway Trust Fund’s ambition that by now 90 percent of the population would be within 10 minutes of a freeway,” Martin said. “We hope to recognize that in some of your lifetimes. But it’s been complicated. Progress is awfully easy to block.”

Martin said he drove the route from Morrisville to Carteret Community College where the study was announced, saying the frequent traffic signals were inefficient, costly and unhealthy for business and travel.

“Industries need to get products to market and need a four-lane road to get to the Interstate,” he said.

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