County must battle shortfall in DOT funds, engineer says

Published 5:17 pm Tuesday, August 7, 2007

By Staff
Facelifts set for some back roads
News Editor
There should be money in the next cycle to build more of the U.S. Highway 17 bypass, but on the whole, there’s just not enough to go around when it comes to paying for “black gold” projects, state Department of Transportation leaders said Monday night.
DOT board member Marvin Blount III told Beaufort County commissioners there could be as much as $30 million in the next Transportation Improvement Program, at least some of which could be directed to the northernmost section of the bypass in Washington. But construction costs have increased 92 percent in four years, he said. That reality doesn’t help the fate of smaller projects in eastern North Carolina, said District Engineer Woody Jarvis, who serves Beaufort and Pitt counties in his new post.
Blount said that though North Carolina used to be known as “the good road state,” there is now “ground to make up.” He said he hopes the General Assembly will soon reconsider its appropriations for DOT, perhaps in special session.
It’s going to take a windfall from legislators to offset the costs of some of the things commissioners asked Jarvis about, the new leader said.
Commissioner Jerry Langley wanted to know why the grass gets “waist high” before it’s mowed.
Jarvis said it’s because the same money that pays for mowing has to pay for things like patching or paving. He said mowing in the growing season is scheduled for once every five weeks, but that’s just not enough when this area has “almost tropical” weather conditions.
As part of the secondary road improvement program, DOT does plan to spend $2.4 million on several Beaufort County roads, according to a plan presented Monday. They include Mary’s Chapel Road, Muddy Creek Road, Monroe’s Lane and Brantley Swamp. Tuten, Hog Pen, Sydney and Creek roads are also on the list.