Raleigh - The following are highlights from this week at the N.C. Department of Transportation. The stories below are also featured in NCDOT Now, the department's weekly newscast.
More than $35 million in state funding was allocated for safety updates at 11 local airports from Statesville to Ocracoke. Statewide airport data from 2016 shows aviation contributes more than $31 billion in annual economic impact to North Carolina's economy, including over 123,000 airport-related jobs.
The improvements will also help the state's agriculture community. "In a farming community, we treat 50,000 acres a year in crop land for local farmers," said Air-AG, Inc. CEO Harold Thompson.
Improvements include repaving runways and updating airfield lighting.
Two events were held this week along the North Carolina coast to kick off "Operation Firecracker," the official name for this year's "Booze It and Lose It" campaign. The Governor's Highway Safety Program was joined by local law enforcement and the North Carolina Highway Patrol at kickoff events in Wilmington on Thursday and Kill Devil Hills on Friday. The annual campaign will include stepped-up patrols and checking stations across North Carolina cracking down on impaired drivers.
"These campaigns are essential to help keeping our roadways safe and keeping impaired drivers off the road," said GHSP Interim Director Robert Broome. "When people make a choice to drive while impaired, they are making choices that will impact not just their lives, but the lives of countless others."
Since the inception of "Booze It and Lose It" 23 years ago, North Carolina Law Enforcement agencies have conducted over 403,000 checkpoints and patrols during the annual campaign. This year's campaign runs June 30 through July 9.