Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, December 27, 2017

The draft US 13/17 feasibility study report was released December 13. It gives a glimpse of possible changes to the corridor from US 64 in Williamston to the Virginia state line. Signs already exist on portions of the highway identifying it as Future Interstate 87.

Of most interest to Tyrrell County motorists probably is the segment in Perquimans County from NC 37 intersection north of Albemarle Sound to the Elizabeth City bypass.

The preferred of two alternatives for the segment involves upgrading existing US 17 to interstate standards.

Service roads would be provided on both sides of US 17 east of the Davenport Lane interchange. The service road on the western side of US 17 would stop prior the proposed diamond interchange at Bear Swamp Road, but the service road on the eastern side of US 17 would continue past the interchange. Service roads would be provided on the western side again following the interchange.

At Edenton Road Street [in the south edge of Hertford] a partial interchange would be provided to allow southbound traffic on the service road to merge onto US 17 and northbound traffic on US 17 to exit onto the service road.

Wynne Fork Road [in Hertford] would be converted to a grade separation and connect to service roads adjacent to US 17.

A half cloverleaf interchange is proposed at Church Street [the main intersection south of Perquimans River].

The existing bridge would be used to cross the Perquimans River. North of the river, a partial cloverleaf interchange is proposed at Creek Drive.

Old Neck Road would be converted to a grade separation and Melton Grove Road would be extended to provide a service road on the northern side of US 17.

A partial cloverleaf interchange is proposed at Woodland Church Road with service roads continuing on east of the interchange.

The current junction with Old Highway 17 would be converted to a grade separation that connects the service roads and Old Highway 17.

The existing interchange at Okisko Road would be utilized with minor improvements to the ramps.

Angela Welsh, director of the Albemarle Rural Planning Organization, cautions that a feasibility study is a preliminary document.  “It’s the first step in the planning process for the State Transportation improvement Program (STIP).  It doesn’t include an exhaustive environmental analysis, detailed designs and there is no extensive public or stakeholder involvement.”

Feasibility studies identify the needs for the project, describe the project, develop alternatives, identify costs and potential impacts and potential problems that may need to be considered during the design phase.

Feasibility studies do not determine the alternatives which will be constructed. Once a project is funded for construction, then the design and permitting process begins with extensive public involvement.