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Sun Journal: US 70 James City Project to be More Visible in February
February 05, 2021
by Bill Hand
If you’ve gone down US 70 through James City recently looking for signs of the US 70 project, you have not been able to see many.
There are a few: the McDonalds and service station ensemble is empty. Brices Creek Bible Church is boarded up and awaiting a wrecking ball and its future life as an exit ramp. A few signs are announcing future locations for other businesses-to-become-exit-access.
But otherwise, all seems quiet. But don’t worry, work is about to begin.
US 70 is destined to become Interstate I-42 connecting Morehead City and Raleigh with a 151-mile band free of intersections and traffic lights. The work is being done in bits and pieces over several years, replacing those intersections with exits that often include roundabouts and allowing beach runs or dashes to the culture of the big cities to be a 70-mph breeze.
Work has already been done on Slocum Gate in Havelock, as have sections at Newport River Bridge, Pine Level and Wilson’s Mill.
Other projects include Havelock bypasses, the Gallants Channel Bridge, a Kinston bypass and a Goldsboro bypass to Princeton. Of most note to travelers passing through New Bern is the James City project.
The changes will begin at US 70, just east of the Trent River Bridge and will extend 5.1 miles, widening the highway, adding access roads, and turning the five intersections of Williams Road, Airport Road, Grantham Road, Taberna Way and Thurman Road into exits.
Those exits will run beneath US 70, with bridges carrying the highway over them, giving them what one might guess is a very-low-thrill rollercoaster ride. Four of the exits will make use of roundabout – that is, traffic circles – to ease traffic congestion.
Wendi Johnson, project engineer, said the project, which will be completed sometime in late 2023, will be done in three phases. Phase 1 will include upgrading existing service roads and building new roads, along with the temporary widening of US 70.
In Phase 2, traffic will be shifted onto the service road while the widening of 70 will continue and ramp construction begins.
Phase 3 will use the newly-constructed widening of 70 and the construction of temporary traffic signals and intersections. Access to 70 will be made with right turns only while, to cross the highway, dedicated lanes will be built about every 1,000 feet with traffic signals allowing drivers to make U-turns.
In the final phase, bridges will be constructed and roundabouts completed.
The price tag is estimated at 327.56 million.
Lauren DeHaviland, Divisions 2 and 3 communications officer for NCDOT, said that some work is already happening in the form of utility relocation. Demolition on acquired parcels will start this month and actual road work, under contractor Balfour Beatty, will begin in late spring.
While numerous businesses along the corridor will be affected in some way, many will be able to continue to operate where they are. DeHaviland said that 50 businesses were actually being displaced.
She listed those as: Mallard Oil; Handymart; The Plant Farm; Craven County Junior Chamber of Commerce; Thermik; Twin Rivers Supply Compan; Auda Style; United Refrigeration, Inc.; Pamlico Marine & Trailer; Speedway; Marine Federal Credit Union; Cowell Cleaners; Junkyard Market; Re-Max (Consuelo Colvin); First Citizens Bank; Connor Spear Plumbing Co.; Suburban Propane; Fisher Stores, Inc.; Craven Tire Sales; Craven Pre-Cast Products; Stone Craft; Mater Builders Fencing; Ruby Tuesday; McDonalds; PMC of North Carolina; A2 Z; CSC Service Works; Pho Saigon Osaka Express Grille; Joli Salon; Amerigas; West Shore Window & Door; Waffle House; Fisher Stores; D&D’s Entertainment; Riverside Mitsubishi; Riverside Dodge; Riverside Subaru; Comfort Master Mechanical; Highway 55; Sun Tan City; Jersey Mike’s; Brices Creek Bible Church; United Self Storage; The Gartner Marie Group; Dock Pro, Inc.; Spring Creek Timber Company; A-1 Tree; Hear Me Speak and TheraPlay Junction.
The Kinston bypass is not scheduled to start until 2029. The 22-mile stretch will begin near La Grange and connect to US 70 near Dover on the Jones-Craven county line. The cost is estimated to be $381.1 million.The Havelock bypass is listed as under construction and will be completed in spring, 2024 at a cost of $167.2 million. The 10-mile road will begin north of Havelock city limits ad continue to just south of the Craven-Carteret county line.
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