Greenville - For the coastal region, this year delivered several important projects that help fulfill Governor Pat McCrory's 25-Year Vision for transportation. Significant progress was made on key projects to improve safety, enhance mobility, reduce congestion, and provide the infrastructure needed to expand eastern North Carolina's manufacturing base.
"2016 will be remembered as the year Governor McCrory's vision for better infrastructure and greater connectivity came to life," said Division 2 Division Engineer John Rouse. "The announcement of Greenville's first interstate, progress on the 10th Street Connector, and the Greenville Bypass groundbreaking are some of the major achievements that will improve the regional mobility and help attract industry to the area."
Division Two, which includes Carteret, Jones, Lenoir, Green, Pitt, Beaufort, Craven and Pamlico Counties, gained its first Future Interstate designation in November. U.S. 264 between Zebulon and Greenville will be added to the Interstate Highway System as Future Interstate 587. Greenville is the state's largest city currently not served by an interstate highway.
Another 2016 milestone in Pitt County was the start of the Greenville Southwest Bypass project. Work on the four-lane, 12.6-mile freeway began in September and is slated for completion in June 2019. The bypass will begin approximately two miles south of Ayden on N.C. 11 and wrap around the west side of Ayden and Winterville, ending at the U.S. 264 Bypass west of Greenville.
The Bypass will relieve congestion, improve safety and reduce travel time along the U.S. 264/N.C. 11 corridor. The local economy will also benefit from the highway's five interchanges, which have the potential to spur commercial and residential development.
Although work on the 10th Street Connector in Greenville began in late 2015, the most visible progress on the project occurred in 2016 as crews began converting 10th Street into a four-lane divided road with a landscaped median that directly links Memorial Drive to 10th Street at Evans Street. Work on the Connector will continue throughout 2017. Once completed the following year, it will provide a vital connection between Vidant Medical Center and East Carolina University.
In October, the region was devastated by the impact of Hurricane Matthew. While wind damage from the storm was minimal, extensive flooding forced the closure of hundreds of primary and secondary roads throughout eastern North Carolina.
Transportation crews moved quickly to assess the damage and begin repairing and reopening roads and bridges. In several cases, roads appeared safe on the surface, but inspections revealed their support structures were washed out.
"More than 200 roads in Division 2 were impacted by Hurricane Matthew," Division Engineer John Rouse said. "Although it was the worst flooding we've seen since Hurricane Floyd, we came together and worked day and night to restore our roads to drivable condition."
The replacement of aging bridges will be a top priority in the coming year, fulfilling yet another goal of Governor McCrory's 25-Year Vision for transportation. The Queen Street Project in Kinston replaces two bridges over the Neuse River with two new, wider bridges and is slated for completion in March 2017. The previous bridges were built in 1930 and widened in 1954. The new Queen Street Bridge will have a wider roadway that better accommodates private and commercial traffic.