By Outer Banks Voice on January 8, 2016
The North Carolina Board of Transportation voted Thursday to speed up the construction timeline for the long-proposed Mid-Currituck Bridge between the mainland and Corolla.
The board also gave approval to accelerating planning for additional travel lanes on U.S. 158 from the Wright Memorial Bridge to Whalebone Junction in Nags Head, and for improvements of the U.S. 158/N.C. 12 intersection in Kitty Hawk that could include an interstate-style interchange.
The amendments to the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program, which dictates NCDOT projects for the next decade, came about from changes instituted in the state government budget approved in 2015.
“The reforms I signed into law will get these roads built sooner,” Governor McCrory said. “The primary purpose of the reforms was to ensure transportation funds were being spent on transportation projects and not diverted to other state programs.”
“I want to thank Governor McCrory, Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson, Representative Bob Steinburg and Senator Bill Cook for recognizing the importance of advancing these projects and bringing needed transportation improvements to northeastern North Carolina,” said Board of Transportation Member Malcolm Fearing. “These projects will not only bring jobs to our community, they will also improve the quality of life for those who call this region home.”
The schedule for construction of the Mid-Currituck Bridge over the Currituck Sound has been accelerated from Fiscal Year 2019 to 2017 at a cost of at least $410 million.
The state would kick about $173 million in for initial planning, design work and right-of-way acquisition, and the rest would come from the sale of bonds that would be paid back using tolls.
In November, the state Board of Transportation granted a request for $5.7 million from the state’s Highway Trust Fund, which is supported primarily by revenue generated by North Carolina’s motor fuels tax, to pay for purchase of a 7-acre tract in Corolla that will be the eastern landing of the bridge.
The additional lanes for Croatan Highway and the interchange project at the Aycock Brown Visitors Center are unfunded and are subject to prioritization in the next STIP.
But right-of-way acquisition has been placed on the current STIP schedule for fiscal year 2024 for the intersection and fiscal year 2025 for the bypass expansion.
For NCDOT’s Division One, which includes Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties, nine new and accelerated highway projects, 16 new and accelerated aviation projects such as land purchases, runway and taxiway construction, and two ferry projects including a new River-Class ferry, as well as a new tug.
The state budget included additional funding for transportation through the elimination of the transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund and through other fee and rate changes resulting in an additional $1.6 billion over the next 10 years for transportation construction.
The department followed the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law to identify new projects (either segments or entire projects) at the statewide, regional and division levels. The projects were identified from those previously scored based on the same weights and criteria (data) used to develop the 2016-2025 STIP.