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Contract awarded to widen U.S. 17

By Staff
Section located south of Chocowinity
By PETER WILLIAMS
Managing Editor
The N.C. Board of Transportation approved a $12.9 million contract Thursday to widen U.S. 17 south of Chocowinity, the second large contract awarded in the past six months.
The area extends from south of Possum Track Road (State Road 1127) to south of Price Road (S.R. 1149). The contract was awarded to Roberson Contracting Inc. of Williamston. Work is scheduled to begin as early as Feb. 4, with final completion by Sept. 1, 2010.
In October, DOT awarded a $2.1 million contract to repair and repaint the U.S. 17 bridge over the Pamlico-Tar River. The project, which was expected to be complete in May, is presently 21 percent complete.
Included in the Chocowinity project are plans to widen 4.2 miles of U.S. 17 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway with a 46-foot-wide median. Two 12-foot lanes will be constructed parallel to the current lanes with a four-foot-wide paved outside shoulder and two-foot-wide paved inside shoulder for a total width of 30 feet. After construction of the new lanes has been completed, the existing lanes of U.S. 17 will also be widened from 11 feet to 12 feet and shoulders will be constructed.
Traffic will be maintained on the current lanes of U.S. 17 south of Chocowinity while the new lanes are being constructed. Traffic will then be redirected onto the new lanes while the current lanes are widened.
The Chocowinity project is separate from a $190 million project to build a new four-lane bridge over the Tar River. Flatiron-United was the winning bidder on that contract which extends as far as Price Road. Construction on that segment started in February 2007 and as of this week, DOT was reporting 41 percent of the project was complete. That section is scheduled to be finished by November 2010.
The long-term plan is to have a four-lane highway between Washington and New Bern. Funding for a four-lane U.S. 17 between Washington and Williamston is not yet available. Gaps in the southern section also remain, even with the award of Thursday’s contract.
The northern part of the New Bern bypass that would eventually link to the Chocowinity stretch is on the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan but as of now is not funded.
The New Bern section will require a bridge over the Neuse River. The Highway 17 Association is working to get all of U.S. 17 improved from South Carolina to Virginia.