The planned U.S. 70-Slocum Road interchange project has been delayed for about two years as the N.C. Department of Transportation deals with property acquisition and power line issues.
“I got it in writing this week,” Derwood Stevenson, director of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, told members of the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission at a meeting last week.
Construction had been originally planned for next year on the $20.5 million project that is designed to improve traffic flow on to Cherry Point and improve safety at the intersection on the west end of Havelock.
John Rouse, N.C. Department of Transportation Division 2 engineer, said the delay was needed to coordinate one right-of-way easement from the Croatan National Forest that originally escaped notice.
A major part of the project is construction of a flyover bridge from U.S. 70 East that would cross over westbound lanes of U.S. 70 to allow easier access to Cherry Point’s Slocum Gate and eliminate rush-hour congestion at the traffic signal currently in place. The project also involves major changes to the intersection at U.S. 70 and Tucker Creek, which has drawn some protests from residents and city officials.
Also during the meeting, Hugh Overholt, a member of the N.C. Board of Transportation, expressed optimism that the state’s new funding formula for DOT projects would not adversely impact the planned U.S. 70 bypass around Havelock.
“I think Division 2 is going to do well on a couple of projects, and I have guarded hope the Havelock Bypass will one of them,” Overholt said of the area that includes Craven County.
Rouse said the latest environmental report on the project is expected in the fall.
“The U.S. 70 Havelock bypass has been on the Transportation Improvement Plan for as long as I’ve been here and that’s 28 years,” Rouse said. “But this new scoring method takes into account both congestion and commute time cuts, and I think that will give it the points it needs to be built.”
Property acquisition is planned for 2015 with construction expected to begin in 2017, according to the current plan. However, the new DOT formula could result in a new timeline for the project depending on how it compares to other state road projects.
Right of way acquisition is planned for 2015 and construction for 2017.
The commission is working toward a “Super 70” concept that would allow for quicker travel and faster transport of commercial goods from Raleigh to the coast, which includes bypasses around Havelock, Kinston and Goldsboro.
Four design plans have been created for the Kinston bypass, while construction on two stages of a Goldsboro bypass could be completed by 2016.
Sue Book is a reporter for the Sun Journal.