U.S. 17, Beaufort County bridges on projects list for next decade

Published 7:21 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

For the next decade, more than 1,700 transportation projects are planned across North Carolina. Some of those projects are slated for Beaufort County.

First on the list for North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Division 2 projects is the 10-mile stretch of the  U.S. Highway 17 bypass north of Washington. At a total estimated cost of $85 million, the widening of the road from N.C. Highway 171 to just south of Williamston is expected to start in 2021 and take four years to complete.

The relocation of the aging Mouth of the Creek Road bridge over Blounts Creek will cost an estimated $6.8 million. The two-year project is expected to be completed in 2021. Two other Beaufort County bridge replacements are expected: a bridge on Possum Track Road over Chocowinity Creek ($865,000) and the Mary’s Chapel Church Road bridge over Durham Creek in Aurora ($1,075,000). Construction on both is expected to start in 2020.

While a project to widen 15th Street from Carolina Avenue to Brown Street in Washington is listed, its construction is designated unfunded. In December 2016, the Washington City Council turned down an NCDOT plan to widen 15th Street and install medians along the route based on residents’ and business owners’ objections. City officials said at the time they would consider other NCDOT proposals, but the project appears to have been demoted as a priority.

The intersection at N.C. Highway 32 and Brick Kiln Road, just east of Washington, is due to get a makeover, however, it’s not slated to happen until 2028.

Parts of U.S. 17 will be widened to multiple lanes in Craven County. Eastern North Carolina economic developers have long pushed for completion of the only multi-lane highway running north to south, east of I-95, to promote accessibility to industrial sites in eastern North Carolina. The 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program does not call for its completion — Craven County U.S. 17 projects are limited to a New Bern bypass, and a widening to multi-lanes of 9.8 miles of the highway from Mills Street in Bridgeton, north to the U.S. 17 intersection with N.C. Highway 43 and a further 1.9 miles from N.C. 43 to Spruill Town Road. The latter two projects are not set to start until 2024.

“The department’s 10-year transportation plan is updated every two years. Projects scheduled in the first six years of the plan are considered committed and are not re-evaluated when a new plan is developed. Projects in the final four years of each plan are prioritized again based on technical data, as well as input from local officials and residents,” a press release sent with the report stated. “The overall statewide list includes 1,319 highway projects, 86 aviation, 234 bike and pedestrian, six ferry, 23 public transit and 50 rail projects selected on statewide, regional and division levels. The projects were prioritized based on technical data as well as input from local officials and residents.”