This stretch of I-95 was part of the first portion of the interstate built in North Carolina in the late 1950s. It was a four-lane, median-divided highway through the state when it was completed in 1980 in Fayetteville.
This section of I-95 is also the busiest in the state, reaching nearly 60,000 vehicles a day in southern Johnston County according to a 2016 survey. According to the I-95 Planning and Finance Study Environmental Assessment (2012), congestion will increase and drivers will experience traffic jams, if the highway is not widened.
An important part of the local, regional, state and national transportation systems, I-95 serves commerce, residential populations, the tourism sector, the military, school systems and medical centers, and other institutions. The interstate is also part of North Carolina’s hurricane evacuation route system.
In the fall of 2017, the N.C. Department of Transportation began developing plans to widen this stretch of I-95. Public meetings were held in October 2018. Right-of-way acquisition along the corridor began in November 2018. An environmental document called a Categorical Exclusion was signed in January 2019.
The project has been broken into two sections for construction. The southern section, between Murphy Road (Exit 55) in Cumberland County and Long Branch Road (Exit 71) in Harnett County, was awarded in August 2019. The department awarded a $404 million design-build contract
to S.T. Wooten of Wilson to complete the design, acquire the right of way, and construct the improvements between exits 55 and 71.
NCDOT plans to award a construction contract in July 2021 to widen and improve the northern portion, from Exit 71 to Exit 81 (the I-40 interchange). Construction on both segments will take about four years to complete.