POLLOCKSVILLE - A heavily traveled bypass in Jones County opened to drivers Thursday more than eight months ahead of schedule.
The U.S. 17 Bypass, which shortens the trip between Jacksonville and New Bern, opened to the first vehicles at 1 p.m. Thursday after the N.C. Department of Transportation hosted a ribbon cutting earlier in the day.
“The U.S. 17 Bypass will create better connections between this corridor and the new U.S. 70 Bypass near New Bern," said NCDOT Secretary Jim Trogdon, who spoke alongside local officials during Thursday's event. “With these better connections, the bypass will strengthen military connections, enhance freight movement throughout the region and improve a key evacuation route."
Construction on the U.S. 17 Bypass started in October of 2015. The bypass will allow for a smoother, safer and less congested ride around the two towns it skirts, Maysville and Pollocksville.
The bypass was identified years ago by NCDOT and Jones County as one of the region's main priorities and, as such, was accelerated. The bypass was originally scheduled to open in June 2020.
The 16.3-mile highway starts south of Belgrade and ties into the U.S. 17 Bypass around New Bern.