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Bypass construction set to start next month

By Staff
Project is DOT’s most expensive one
By PETER WILLIAMS, Editor
Construction should start next month on a $192 million U.S. Highway 17 bypass around Washington and Chocowinity.
The first thing people will notice will be some utility relocation work on both ends of the project, said Paul Newman, project manager for Flatiron Constructors, the major contractor on the job.
The four-lane bypass will begin south of Price Road and will extend seven miles to reconnect with Highway 17 just south of Hamilton Beach Road. Of the 6.8 miles, 2.9 miles of it will be bridges over either the Tar River or wetlands. In terms of cost, the project is the largest being undertaken by the Department of Transportation in North Carolina at this time.
To build the bridge, Flatiron will use two special pieces of equipment presently under construction in Italy. The equipment will be shipped in containers to Beaufort County this spring and assembled on-site on each side of the river.
The process consists of a self-contained piece of equipment capable of performing all tasks associated with bridge construction, including driving the precast piles, building the bent caps, erecting the 120-foot-long precast girders and pouring the deck. All of these operations will be performed without the use of temporary-access trestles, thus significantly reducing environmental disturbances, according to published reports.
The whole project is set to be complete in November 2010. At any given time 100 workers will be involved, Newman said.
The current Highway 17 bridge in downtown Washington will remain in service.
Meetings set for next week
By PETER WILLIAMS, Editor
Two meetings are set for next week to discuss facets of the U.S. Highway 17 project.
The Highway 17 Transportation Association in North Carolina will hold its annual meeting Monday at 11 a.m. at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center. On Thursday, the N.C. Department of Transportation will hold a pubic forum between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Beaufort Community College on plans to build a Highway 17 bypass around Washington and Chocowinity.
The bypass project will be done as a venture between Colorado-based Flatiron Constructors and United Contractors. Flatiron representatives are planning to attend.
DOT Secretary Lyndo Tippett is the keynote speaker at the Highway 17 Association meeting. He is expected to give an update on Highway 17 planning and construction progress, as well as discuss other transportation issues of interest.
Six regional corporations are sponsoring the event: A.R. Chesson Construction Company of Williamston; Embarq Communications of Greenville; Progress Energy of Jacksonville; S.T. Wooten Corporation of Wilson; Ward &Smith, P.A. of New Bern; and Wimco General Contractors of Washington.
Outgoing Highway 17 Association President Zoph Potts will host the meeting.
Following the secretary’s remarks, the association will elect officers for the coming year and conduct other administrative business.
The Highway 17 Association has been in existence officially for over 30 years. It was created in 1975 by a network of local governments and concerned residents throughout eastern North Carolina.
The association is gearing up to lobby the General Assembly for funding for U.S. 17, said Marc Finlayson, executive director.
The four-laning of Highway 17 between Washington and Williamston, or Washington to New Bern is not funded.