Finlayson lobbies for Highway 17 improvements

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 27, 2006

WINDSOR – Marc Finlayson has a dream.

As the Executive Director of the Highway 17 Transportation Association, Finlayson is the chief advocate for improving this coastal thoroughfare within North Carolina’s borders. He shared his vision for those improvements with the Bertie Board of Commissioners during their regularly scheduled meeting here Monday night.

Finlayson praised the Bertie County officials for their proactive stance in aiding the Association in reaching its ultimate goal, that of four-laning US 17 through the state. That project, ongoing since the Association was founded in 1975, includes a four-lane bypass of Windsor, one currently under construction.

“Bertie County and Windsor are ahead of the game,” Finlayson said. “Your bypass is ahead of schedule.”

However, Finlayson’s mission is not limited to ongoing projects.

“Our goal is to have any of the currently unfunded US 17 projects funded by 2009,” he noted. “We also want to help steer the funded projects and ensure they remain on track.”

As it is with any major road project, Finlayson said the Windsor bypass will become attractive to business ventures.

“This four-lane bypass will provide more commerce to your area,” Finlayson said. “That’s also what we want to see for the entire US 17 corridor within North Carolina.”

Citing the Association’s Mission Statement, Finlayson said the group will share a regional vision by not advancing one local project at the expense of another. Another mission is to help DOT solve any problems that may pop-up in the planning, design, right-of-way acquisition and construction of all US 17 projects.

Currently, the road is four-laned in spots, most notably from the Virginia line through a portion of Bertie County. One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is a four-lane bypass of Washington, but a portion of that remains unfunded.

Finlayson said the Association will continue to lobby state legislatives for additional funding. He added it would take over $400 million to fully complete the project within the state.

“Hopefully, business will pick-up for us when the General Assembly reconvenes in January,” he said.

As a marketing and public relations expert, Finlayson is very knowledgeable about the legislative and regulatory processes in Raleigh and Washington, DC.

The Highway 17 Association has been in existence officially for over 30 years.

It was created in 1975 by a network of local governments and concerned citizens throughout eastern North Carolina.

It is the expressed purpose of the association to support and pursue the completion of a multi-lane US 17 throughout North Carolina from Virginia to South Carolina.

According to Finlayson, improving US 17 throughout its route in North Carolina is extremely important for several key reasons. He stressed that much of the highway is too narrow to support the volume and size of its traffic, thus creating a safety issue.

He stressed that the highway is the main economic artery for much of eastern North Carolina, citing the need for a limited access four lane corridor to help coastal counties grow business and industry.

Finlayson also cited the importance of an improved highway to the military in eastern North Carolina as it moves troops and materials among installations and ports.

He also noted the need to have safe, efficient evacuation routes to move citizens out of the paths of hurricanes.