US 13/158 project moves forward

Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2011

GATESVILLE – Work is expected to begin soon on the planned widening of US 13/158 between Winton and Tar Heel Barbecue in Gates County.

Sterling Baker of the North Carolina Department of Transportation confirmed that fact when he provided the Gates County Board of Commissioners with DOT’s annual Secondary Roads Construction Program report.

Baker said US 13/158 remains a design-build project.

“That contract is scheduled to be let this month,” Baker said. “Once the contract is awarded, the contractor and the design firm come together and do both. Once the design is finalized, it’s roughly a year before you’ll see any ground disturbing activity. In the meantime, they’ll be acquiring right-of-way and coordinating the moving of the utilities before the contractor moves in.”

DOT plans to spend $56,809,600 of NC Highway Trust Fund money on this 7.1-mile project. The plans call for widening the road to four lanes, including the addition of another two-lane bridge over the Chowan River, west of the existing span. Two new bridges will be built at the creek in Gates County near Barfield Road.

The median-divided highway will be fully access controlled at some points and partial access at others. Only one driveway is allowed per parcel; the state may allow a second access if the property’s road frontage is 2,000 feet or more.

DOT said the purpose of the project was to reduce traffic congestion and improve travel time. It was also noted the project is part of the Strategic Highway Corridor, which includes improvements to US 158 from Winston-Salem to Kitty Hawk as well as upgrades to US 13 from Wilmington to Norfolk.

Baker was at the Commissioners’ meeting to present them with DOT’s 2011-12 Secondary Roads Construction Program, one that earmarks a total of $419,061.12 for improvement projects in Gates County.

He said DOT’s top priority in the county is paving a 1.7 mile stretch of Savage Road, the current unpaved portion from SR 1302. The total estimated cost is $625,000 ($305,000 from current year funding and $320,000 carried over from the previous year).

“We were originally going to do that with our forces, but based on budget personnel cuts last year and restrictions in hirings, we lost several positions in Gates County (road) maintenance and we’ve had to shuffle around our plans based on manpower,” Baker said. “This project will now be contracted and we expect work to begin in late fall of this year. They’ll probably pave it sometimes next summer.”

Baker added that right-of-way issues on Savage Road still exist and the sharp curve on that road cannot be addressed.

If additional funds become available, Baker said two paved road alternative projects will move forward in the county. They are widen (18 feet to 20 feet) and strengthen 4.3 miles of Sandy Cross Road (from NC 32 to SR 1002) at a cost of $240,000 (plus $360,000 in previous funding) and/or widen (18 feet to 20 feet) and strengthen 2.3 miles of Willeyton Road (from SR 1303 to SR 1300) at a cost of $330,000.

Another $40,000 of current year funding will be used for unpaved road spot improvements. A contingency fund of $74,061.12 completes the 2011-12 DOT allocation to Gates County.

DOT is also moving forward with several road projects in Gates County funded in previous years. They include:

Spivey Road – widen (16 feet to 20 feet) and strengthen 2.05 miles from SR 1414 to SR 1417 ($295,000 under contract);

Bank Street – widen (18 feet to 20 feet) and strengthen 0.6 miles from SR 1414 to SR 1417 ($90,000 under contract);

Acorn Hill Road – strengthen 5.3 miles of pavement from SR 1413 to US 158 ($375,000, contract to be let in Winter of 2011); and

Reynoldson Road – strengthen 2.6 miles of pavement from US 13 to the Virginia line ($1,025,000 under contract).

Board Vice-Chairman Kenneth Jernigan asked about the timetable of the previously funded projects now under contract.

“I know Reynoldson Road has been on the list for several years and ya’ll have been appropriating money for that over the last few years,” Jernigan said.

“We had several years where we were given a spending budget and an allocation budget and the spending budget wound up being less and we’ve spent the past several years trying to catch-up,” Baker noted. “If everything stays on course, we should be caught up by the next fiscal year.”

Jernigan said the cost to repave Reynoldson Road was high due to the special work needed there to strengthen the surface because of the heavy truck traffic.

Baker confirmed that two inches of the Reynoldson Road surface would be milled and replaced with six inches of asphalt.

Rose Brothers has that contract and work is expected to begin over the next few months.

In regards to the county’s unpaved roads on the DOT “hold list”, Baker said no action could be taken on those until right-of-way issues are resolved.

Commissioner Jack Owens asked if county officials could assist with the right-of-way issues and was informed by Baker that DOT would provide any and all files on those roads to the commissioners.

“We can supply the contacts we’ve made up until this point, who has signed (right-of-way agreements) and who is holding out,” Baker said. “If you learn of any new developments in the right-of-way issues, we will certainly investigate those.”

Owens motioned to approve a resolution for DOT’s 2011-12 Secondary Roads Construction Program in Gates County. Commissioner Johnny Hora offered a second and the measure was approved by a 5-0 vote.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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