ASHEBORO – State and local officials cut the ribbon Friday on new roads that transform access for residents of Randolph County and people visiting one of the state’s most popular attractions.
Following an outdoor ceremony held in adherence to state COVID-19 guidance, the N.C. Department of Transportation opened the new U.S. 64 route and Zoo Connector on the south side of Asheboro.
“U.S. 64 is a vital corridor for the movement of people and goods throughout North Carolina,” said Lisa Mathis, the Division 8 representative on the N.C. Board of Transportation. “The completion of this project provides high speed connectivity as well as enhanced access for the region’s top attraction – the N.C. Zoo.”
Construction on the 14.4-mile, four-lane highway and 1.7-mile connector began in 2015 and cost about $264 million.
“The successful completion of a project of this magnitude can only be accomplished with a coordinated effort by all parties involved,” said NCDOT Division 8 Engineer Brandon Jones. “NCDOT, Asheboro Bypass Constructors LLC, the N.C. Zoo, the City of Asheboro and Randolph County each provided the vision and fortitude that involved years of planning and design followed by over four years of construction.”
Drivers can now follow U.S. 64 from either side of Asheboro to an interchange that connects them directly to Zoo Parkway, closer to the entrance to the Zoo.
“We’re thrilled that the new 64 Bypass and Zoo Connector road will help us bring the wonder of the North Carolina Zoo even closer to everyone,” said North Carolina Zoo Director and CEO Pat Simmons. “These new roads will provide better access to the Zoo and we’re grateful the state made this important improvement to the community.”
Asheboro Mayor David Smith said thanks to the new roads, people can spend more time enjoying the world's largest natural habitat zoo and less time in traffic.
“Now visitors can get there rapidly and safely,” Smith said. “The N.C. Zoo is a great place to visit this winter as the North American animals are moving and active, and families can enjoy the great Piedmont landscape and the world-class animal exhibits all while safely socially distanced.”
In addition to addressing congestion, travel delays and crash rates on U.S. 64 through Asheboro, the new highway also improves the transportation corridors between Statesville and Raleigh (U.S. 64) and Charlotte and Raleigh (N.C. 49 and U.S. 64).