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Airport upgrades on tap

RALEIGH – The NC Board of Transportation met Dec. 3 to approve new road/bridge projects in the Roanoke-Chowan area and District One in an update to the Department of Transportation’s 10-year construction plan.

These changes, called amendments, were made possible through Governor Pat McCrory’s recently signed 2015 budget and will be voted on for approval in January as part of the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

The state budget included additional funding for transportation through the elimination of the transfer from the Highway Fund to the General Fund and through other fee and rate changes resulting in an additional $1.6 billion over the next 10 years for transportation construction.

A Dec. press release from the governor’s office said, “The budget reforms signed by Governor McCrory added over $700 million in new funding for transportation over two years and ended the annual transfer of $216 million from the Highway Fund to the General Fund.”

The Department of Transportation will also make an estimated $150 million a year from a 30 percent increase in fees for car titles and driver’s licenses and an increase in vehicle registration fees each year from $28 currently to $36 starting in January.

For NCDOT’s Division One, which includes Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties, several new projects will be added, and multiple other projects will be moved up in schedule upon approval in January.

These include nine new and accelerated highway projects; 16 new and accelerated aviation projects, such as Tri-County Airport’s land purchases, runway and taxiway construction.

“The reforms I signed into law will get these roads built sooner,” McCrory said. “The primary purpose of the reforms was to ensure transportation funds were being spent on transportation projects and not diverted to other state programs.

“These budget reforms, coupled with our 25-Year Vision and the new transportation funding formula that emphasizes congestion relief, safety and job-creation will make North Carolina more competitive and prepared for future economic growth,” McCrory said.

In addition to the recently announced acceleration of construction for the Mid-Currituck Bridge over the Currituck Sound from Fiscal Year 2019 to FY 2017, the following are a sample of projects in the Roanoke-Chowan area that will be added or moved up in Division One pending approval in January.

In this area, the Tri-County Airport is to be upgraded. A $622,000 runway extension is slated for FY 2023; the terminal will get a $250,000 upgrade in FY 2025; taxiway construction for $256,000 is scheduled for FY 2024; land acquisition for $500,000 has been accelerated from FY 2023 to FY 2022; and taxiway construction for $1.8 million has been accelerated from FY 2024 to FY 2022.

Significant new and accelerated highway projects slated for Northampton County by the additional revenue include:

Modernize U.S. 258 in Northampton County from the Halifax County line to the Rich Square town limits with construction scheduled for FY 2020.

Upgrade and widen NC 46 from NC 48 in Gaston to the Virginia state line, moving the timeline for construction from fiscal year 2023 to FY 2022;

Upgrade NC 305 from the Seaboard town limits to the Hertford County line, a new project slated for construction in FY 2021;

Widen NC 48 to multi-lanes from Roanoke Avenue in Halifax County to NC 46 in Northampton County, a new project slated for construction in FY 2025; and

Replace bridge 650015 on the NCHS East Road (SR 1505) over Wildcat Swamp, accelerated from FY 2024 to FY 2020.

In Hertford County: Replace bridge 450137 over the Meherrin River overflow on Boone’s Bridge Road (SR 1311), accelerated from FY 2023 to FY 2018; and

Replace bridge 450028 over Cutawhiskie Swamp on the Liverman Mill Road (SR 1137), accelerated from FY 2023 to FY 2018.

In Bertie County: a large scale rehabilitation project for the NC 45/NC 308 bridge over the Roanoke River.

“I want to thank Governor McCrory, Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson, Representative Bob Steinburg and Senator Bill Cook for recognizing the importance of advancing these projects and bringing needed transportation improvements to northeastern North Carolina,” said Board of Transportation Member Malcolm Fearing. “These projects will not only bring jobs to our community, they will also improve the quality of life for those who call this region home.”

The department followed the Strategic Transportation Investments (STI) law to identify new projects (either segments or entire projects) at the statewide, regional and division levels.

The projects were identified from those previously scored based on the same weights and criteria (data) used to develop the 2016-2025 STIP.