The N.C. Department of Transportation recognized the need for improvements along the existing U.S. 220 corridor in North Carolina many years ago.
A feasibility study evaluating initial design options, also referred to as alternatives, for this interstate connector was published in May 1996 and a preliminary public hearing was held in July 1996.
The purpose of the feasibility study was “to identify and evaluate four alternatives providing the necessary Interstate link between the proposed U.S. 220 freeway near Ellerbe and the proposed U.S. 74 Bypass southwest of Rockingham."
After the feasibility study was published, comments and concerns received from area citizens, local government groups and appropriate resource agencies were reviewed.
This review resulted in the selection of two build alternatives for detailed evaluation in an Environmental Assessment, which looks at the environmental effects of a project.
A citizen's informational workshop was held on April 28, 1998, to discuss project purpose and history and to review the two Build Alternatives selected for detailed evaluation in the draft environmental document.
A Corridor Public Hearing was held on July 20, 1999, to review the results of the environmental study and allow the local citizens and public officials an opportunity to formally comment on the Build Alternatives. Two small group meetings were held in 2001 with members of Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, people living in the Hudsonville community and NCDOT.
The Finding of No Significant Impact, which found the project would not have a significant impact on the environment, for the Rockingham Bypass was signed by NCDOT and the Federal Highway Administration in February 2002.
Since that time, the project has been placed on hold several times. Right of way acquisition began in 2009 and was substantially completed for all sections. Some design changes and utility relocations have required minor additional acquisitions of right of way and permanent utility easements as late as year 2019.
Section C of the project, from Harrington Road to the U.S. 220/I-73 Bypass interchange south of Ellerbe, has already been mostly constructed and construction on Sections A and B is expected to begin December 2019.