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Annual meeting highlights highway progress

By Staff
Association ‘getting traction,’ official says
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
NEW BERN — A “reunited effort” to pave a four-lane U.S. Highway through North Carolina was promised on the Banks of the Neuse River Monday afternoon.
Nearly 150 local and state politicians, businessmen and residents turned out at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center for the annual meeting of the Highway 17 Association.
Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill, commissioners Ed Booth and Robert Cayton, Washington Mayor Judy Jennette and Beaufort County Economic Development Director Tom Thompson were all present to promote the improvements to the highway.
Association Vice President Troy Smith described the people gathered as the “hard core of the group, dedicated to get done what needs to be done to get the highway built.
Marc Finlayson was hired as the association’s first full-time executive director in early October. Since that time he has traveled the length of the highway from the northern to the southern border of the state and has enlisted the cooperation of eight county governmental bodies, he said.
The day’s keynote address was given by Lyndo Tippett, the N.C. Secretary of Transportation, who promised a continued emphasis on the construction of the highway during his term in office. But federal budget cuts and the increasing cost of construction may inhibit progress, he said.
One mile of four-lane highway varies in today’s market between $10 million and $40 million, Tippett said.
When new officers were elected at the conclusion of the meeting, it was decided that Smith would replace Zoph Potts as president of the association. Smith spoke on his priorities as new president for the coming year.