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2019 IN REVIEW: Construction is under way on many major roads, but some projects delayed

2019 IN REVIEW: Construction is under way on many major roads, but some projects delayed

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Only $5 for 5 months

This year saw more improvement and upgrades to roads in and around Statesville. Here’s a look at some of the top stories concerning the roads in Iredell County:

I-77 and I-40

After a year, construction around Interstates 77 and 40 began again in the second half of the two-phase project.

In an effort to reduce congestion and collisions where I-77 and I-40 meet, the N.C. Department of Transportation made a two-phase plan to improve the area.

In Phase 1, the department added a diverging diamond, making it easier to exit off I-40 onto U.S. 21, and replaced bridges, among other improvements.

Throughout the five years Phase 1 was underway, the fate of Phase 2 was uncertain. However, progress on Phase 2 began this year.

There was a gap between work during phases because N.C. DOT could not seek bids for the second phase while the first was still being completed.

Ultimately, the department hired Lane Construction Corp. of Connecticut to complete the work.

To lower costs, Phase 2 is a design-build project, so the contractor has partnered with a design firm to develop plans. The official concept has a smaller footprint and includes flyover bridges.

Phase 2 includes making a more efficient interchange at I-40 and I-77 and replacing more bridges.

The DOT expects construction of Phase 2 to be complete in 2022.

Phase 1 cost $89 million. The department estimates the entire project will cost $260 million.

Toll lanes open

While some construction still continues, the I-77 toll lane is complete and open. From Mooresville to Charlotte, motorists can avoid heavy traffic for a price.

Though some still hold the opinion that the lanes were a mistake, the end of construction has made travel from Iredell to Mecklenburg counties much easier in and out of the express lane.

Highway 150 construction plans

Around N.C. 150, Mooresville has seen some businesses close as the DOT makes arrangements to expand the highway to a four-lane road with U-turn areas.

The DOT will widen N.C. 150 just west of the interchange from I-77 to the Catawba County side of the Catawba River. This is the first of two parts of N.C. 150 to be expanded. The second is in Catawba County.

The DOT expects construction to begin in 2020 and estimates the entire project will cost $269.47 million.

Highway 21 homes empty

Meanwhile in Statesville, residents have been bought out from their homes in the acquisition phase of an expansion project of U.S. 21. The project will add two lanes; two bicycle lanes; and a 23-foot raised median from Pump Station Road to north of Fort Dobbs Road, a distance of just under a mile.

The project will also realign the intersections where Shumaker Drive and Jane Sowers Road meet Turnersburg Highway.

However, acquisition was pushed back from this summer to the end of the year, and construction isn’t expected until 2021.

DOT spending discussed

The state treasurer’s office told the DOT to pump the brakes on spending. State Treasurer Dale Folwell said the department was responsible for billions of dollars of overspending in the past year alone.

Folwell said the department borrowed from the Highway Trust Fund, which is only meant for building new roads or paying the debt on bonds. The Highway Trust Fund is partly funded by the tax on gasoline.

Folwell said the department’s money management should be shifted to the Office of State Budget Management, which falls under the governor.

Roundabouts

The idea of driving in circles may not appeal to everyone, but officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation are hoping one circle will help alleviate traffic in Statesville.

The intersection of Sullivan Road and Davie Avenue, commonly called Five Points, is the proposed sight for a roundabout, which department documents indicate aims to improve congestion and traffic flow in the area.

The project will be funded by the DOT to the tune of $1.1 million, and construction is expected to begin in the 2021 fiscal year if the project is approved.

However, there’s no clear consensus among Statesville residents in terms of building the roundabout.

The U.S. 21/64 intersection roundabout would be Statesville’s second; the first is the one farther south on Sullivan Road near the entrance to I-40.

While some residents said they have enjoyed having the new roundabout, others have said they found navigating the exits confusing and fear the same in a second iteration.

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