Future highway project to bring businesses to northeastern NC

Published 5:06 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Gov. Pat McCrory on Oct. 24 unveiled a Future I-87 sign on the U.S. 64/17 corridor during a ceremony in Edenton. This future freeway will better connect northeastern North Carolina to the economic centers of Raleigh and Hampton Roads, Virginia.

N.C. Transportation Division 1 engineer Jerry Jennings said already-funded feasibility studies will consider options, costs and impacts, which in turn will guide future construction funding decisions.

Rep. Bob Steinburg (R-Chowan) predicted that property acquisition for I-87 could begin in seven or eight years.

He said that just having the signs in place would be a great boon for economic development in the region. “This changes the game when you’re talking to people, trying to recruit people to northeastern North Carolina,” Steinburg said.

Economic developers who attended the ceremony said the designation broadens the numbers and types of companies that will be interested in properties near the corridor; for example, distribution centers, data centers, manufacturing, food processing and housing development.

The Interstate 87 project reflects the state’s long-term perspective on transportation and economic development, Steinburg said. “This is a very, very big day for northeastern North Carolina.”

A future interstate designation is also planned for the U.S. 70 corridor between Raleigh and Morehead City-Beaufort, and federal approval is being sought for a similar designation for U.S. Highway 264 from Raleigh to Greenville, the state’s largest metropolitan area not served by an interstate highway.