• 68°

Local highway project coming sooner than expected

AHOSKIE – A major highway project is on tap in Hertford County and it may be coming much sooner than originally expected.

During a public information meeting held last Thursday evening in the Media Center at Ridgecroft School, North Carolina Department of Transportation officials released detailed maps of their plan to widen, to four lanes, US 13 / NC 11 from the NC 11 / NC 561 intersection near the Ahoskie Inn to the US 13 / NC 45 intersection at Winton.

That project will transform US 13 to a four-lane road from Ahoskie to Tarheel BBQ in Gates County. The Gates County portion of that project was completed a few years ago.

While the schedule is subject to change, DOT officials said the project could begin as early as this summer with right-of-way acquisition. The start of construction is pending for the summer of 2021.

Listed on the DOT website as Project No. R-5311, the estimated cost is nearly $77 million. Construction (estimated at nearly $48 million) and right-of-way purchase / utilities relocation ($12.4 million) represent the lion’s share of the overall costs.

A DOT official at last week’s meeting said the project is fully funded on the state’s Transportation Improvement Plan.

The project contains several proposed designs, to include:

Upgrade existing NC 11 and Shortcut Road to a four-lane freeway from south of NC 561 to US 13;

Construct a four-lane freeway on a new location between Shortcut Road / US 13 and existing US 13 at its northern intersection with NC 461;

Upgrade existing US 13 to a four-lane freeway between its northern intersection with NC 461 to just south of US 158 / NC 45 intersection at Winton (the southern end of the current four-lane); and

Realign the intersection of US 13 / Old NC 11 / Brinkleyville Road.

As noted on the maps at last week’s public meeting, the aforementioned design to construct a four-lane highway on a new location protects the historic Pleasant Plains Baptist Church property, which includes the cemetery. It also prevents numerous residents living beyond the church and in the area of the LTD Club on US 13 from having to relocate. That area will be served by the current two-lane stretch of US 13.

The project calls for interchanges to be built at two major intersections: NC 561 at NC 11 and NC 11 at Shortcut Road (the old “11-and-11” intersection; which is already under construction).

Grade separations will be constructed at East and West Modlin Road (which crosses over NC 11) and US 13 and Oak Villa Road.

All other secondary roads that currently intersect with either NC 11 or US 13 along the length of this project will become dead ends (cul-de-sacs). Those include Bonner Bridge Road / Firetower Road, East and West Saluda Hall Road, and Hall Siding Road. However, there is a design pending that would allow US 13 traffic to access East Saluda Hall Road.

According to the NCDOT, the purpose of the proposed project is to improve safety along the US 13 / NC 11 corridor. There were 179 crashes reported along this corridor during a five-year period. Four of those crashes resulted in fatalities. That fatal crash rate exceeds the statewide average, DOT officials said.

They also stated the construction of a median divided, full control of access roadway will help reduce accidents by, “channelizing or eliminating left-turn and side road through movements.”

The DOT added that utilities are within the project area and will need to be relocated.

Public comments were collected by DOT at last week’s meeting. Comments can also be submitted by phone, email or mail by Feb. 14.

For more information, contact NCDOT Project Engineer Roham Lahiji at 252-631-5115 or rrlahiji@ncdot.gov, or Consultant Project Manager Rebecca Gallas at 919-552-2253 or rebeccas.gallas@mottmac.com.

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.

email author More by Cal