U.S. 17 Bypass Opens to Traffic Several Months Ahead of Schedule

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.
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U.S. 17 Bypass opens today; SW Greenville Bypass next week

JONES COUNTY, NC (WITN) – One major highway in Eastern Carolina is opening Thursday while another will be finished next week.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says the new U.S. 17 Bypass in Jones County will have a ribbon-cutting at 11 a.m. Thursday.

The 16.3-mile highway starts just below Belgade in Onslow County and connects to the existing U.S. 17 Bypass in Craven County. >>READ MORE

Most lanes to open on new U.S. 17 bypass in Jones, Onslow Counties

MAYSVILLE, Jones County — The N.C. Department of Transportation will open three of the four final lanes on the new U.S. 17 Bypass in Jones and Onslow counties this week.

Early Thursday afternoon, NCDOT will open three lanes of the new U.S. 17 Bypass between Deppe Loop Road and N.C. 58 in Pollocksville. There will be one southbound lane and two northbound lanes open to traffic. >>READ MORE

Another section of the U.S. 17 Bypass has opened

CRAVEN COUNTY, NC (WITN) – Department of Transportation crews opened a 2.5 Mile stretch of the new highway between Maysville and Pollocksville.

The entire bypass is expected to be completed next year.
It will include a four-lane divided road that will connect U.S..17 North of Spring Hill Road in Onslow County and then reconnect to the U.S. 17 Bypass Southwest of New Bern.

U.S. 17 Bypass in Craven County closing for three months

CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A bypass connecting 2 major highways will close on Tuesday for 3 months, after officials say rain delayed it being closed Monday.

Drivers who used to travel on the the highway 17 bypass in Craven county will be rerouted to take highway 17 Business through New Bern, and several drivers say it will add time to their trips. >>READ MORE

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Public weighs in ahead of planned Highway 17 improvements

MARTIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) The passageway for 10,000 daily drivers, the two-lane Highway 17 between NC 171 and Williamston, will soon be getting a roughly $70 million upgrade.

Thursday in Williamston that Department of Transportation project was the subject of an open public comment meeting, as the DOT prepares to expand the existing road to four-lanes to help alleviate congestion and improve traffic in the area.

“This has kind of become a bottleneck so to speak,” said Jerry Jennings, the DOT’s Division Engineer overseeing the project. “There has been an effort to improve Highway 17 to multi-lanes throughout the state and this is one of the remaining segments that has not been improved.”

Despite the road’s location in a largely rural area, the route is heavily used by tourists heading to the beach, as well as military traffic and industrial and commercial shipping.

Along the current planned construction route, several small cemeteries could be impacted by the expansion, a concern for many area locals, though the DOT said they will do everything they can to minimize impacts.

“With the current design we will slightly impact those cemeteries, but again we are receiving feedback tonight, we’ve heard concerns, so we’ll take that back following this meeting to reduce and to minimize those impacts,” Jennings said in response to the concerns.

The current timeline from the DOT would have right-of-way acquisitions beginning in December of this year, with the actual construction on the roadway starting in June of 2020.

The entire construction phase should take roughly two years to complete, though DOT officials said that timeline has not been finalized and could change.

This project is just one of the 25 strategic highway corridors that have been planned along Highway 17 in North Carolina.

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NC has one of the country’s most beautiful rest stops – and it’s next to a swamp

April 26, 2018: Raleigh: As buildings go, those at the state welcome center at Dismal Swamp on U.S. 17, just south of the Virginia state line, don’t seem all that special — two single-story structures connected by a breezeway.

But the setting, including a boardwalk and benches along the Dismal Swamp Canal, earned the center a spot among the 15 most beautiful rest stops in the country, according to Architectural Digest magazine.

The list includes some pretty spectacular places, including on the Florida Keys, along a glacial lake in Alaska and atop the Continental Divide in Colorado. The magazine introduces the list by saying the road-side stops are “likely more beautiful than the traveler’s final destination.”

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s welcome center overlooks the only swamp on the list.
“I know the word ‘dismal’ does not sound like something you would consider unusually beautiful or even desirable to go visit,” said Donna Stewart, director of the center. “We were just super excited, especially to see the other company that we were included with.”

The first building at the welcome center opened in 1989 and was quickly deemed too small. A second building, now devoted to North Carolina tourist information, went up a few years later, leaving the original devoted to restrooms.

But Stewart says the surroundings are what strike people most, particularly this time of year with the flowering dogwoods under the towering pines and the dark, reflective water of the canal nearby.

“It’s just very picturesque,” she said. “We often hear what a pleasant surprise we are. I think we’re like a little oasis that people happen upon on this busy highway.”

The welcome center also serves as a gateway to Dismal Swamp State Park, just across the canal, a 22-mile stretch of the Intracoastal Waterway that connects the Elizabeth River in Virginia with the Pasquotank River near Elizabeth City. Some of the center’s visitors arrive by boat; Stewart says 1,800 to 2,000 recreational boats passed through the canal each year before Hurricane Matthew clogged the route with shoals and downed trees in the fall of 2016.

Architectural Digest has produced numerous “most beautiful” lists over the years, in such categories as hotels, chapels in Europe and college dormitories, but this is the first for rest stops. Author Kristine Hansen said she looked at a building’s “architectural pedigree and design,” but noted that the “views of nature” were also important.

Her description of the Dismal Swamp Welcome Center doesn’t mention the buildings.

“Motorists can pull over and treat themselves to a stroll along a nature trail,” she writes. “Or a quick dip in the water if they’ve got their own kayak or canoe.”

To see the full list of beautiful rest stops, go to www.architecturaldigest.com/gallery/most-beautiful-rest-stops-in-america.

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article209795509.html#storylink=cpy

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Contract Awarded for U.S. 17 Business Improvements in Perquimans County

Hertford’s 90-year-old “S-Bridge” to be replaced

February 2, 2018 | RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Transportation has awarded a $57 million contract to replace the Perquimans River Bridge in Hertford and make safety improvements on a stretch of U.S. Highway 17 Business between Hertford and Winfall.

The contract, awarded to a design-build team led by McLean Contracting Company of Glen Burnie, MD, calls for a new swing-span bridge to replace the “S Bridge” on U.S. 17 Business/Church Street. The current bridge is nearly 90 years old and is nearing the end of its useful lifespan.

“Hertford’s S-Bridge is beautiful and iconic, but it needs to be replaced,” said NCDOT Division One Engineer Jerry Jennings. “We feel the design of the replacement will be a vast improvement in safety while also keeping Hertford’s historic charm intact.”

The design and alignment of the new bridge has received support from the towns of Hertford and Winfall, as well as from Perquimans County.

The contract also calls for improvements to the causeway from the north end of the bridge to the intersection of U.S. 17 Business and N.C. Highway 37 in Winfall. The total distance of the project is approximately 0.7 miles.

NCDOT will work with the contractor this spring to finalize the project’s design, procure the necessary permits and begin right-of-way acquisition. Construction on the project is slated to begin in summer 2019.

For more information, please contact Tim Hass (tdhass@ncdot.gov or (252) 423-5109)

***NCDOT***

Governor Cooper announces 800 job tire factory headed to Edgecombe County

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – Governor Roy Cooper has announced that a Chinese tire manufacturing company will be bringing a large plant to Eastern Carolina.

Triangle Tyre (Triangle) will be bringing the plant to Kingsboro in Edgecombe County and is expected to create 800 jobs as well as invest $580 million in the local economy.

Cooper says that the project is estimated to contribute more than $2.4 billion to the state’s economy.

“Triangle Tyre chose North Carolina for its first-ever manufacturing center outside of China because they know our workers share their commitment to innovation, education and excellence,” Gov. Cooper said. “I’m excited to see these 800 skilled manufacturing jobs go to Eastern North Carolina where I grew up and raised my family, a place where people have an unshakeable dedication to getting the job done. We welcome Triangle Tyre to its new home, and we’re ready to get to work.”

Cooper made the announcement today at Edgecombe Community College in Tarboro. >>READ MORE

Ribbon-Cutting Event Commemorates the Wilmington Bypass Nearing Completion

WILMINGTON—Friday morning marked a major milestone for the City of Wilmington and surrounding areas as local legislators and state transportation officials gathered to cut a ceremonial ribbon for the Interstate-140/Wilmington Bypass.

The project is in its final phase of construction, with the N.C. Department of Transportation hoping to open the last section of the highway by the end of the month. The nearly eight-mile stretch of highway connects to the section that is already open in Brunswick and New Hanover counties, capping off a $411-million project.

“One of the things we’re working on at the Department is getting projects completed faster,” said Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Tim Little. “The opening of this stretch of highway will mark the completion of the entire 20-mile bypass and the culmination of years of hard work by hundreds of people.”

In addition to the chief engineer, also taking part in the ceremony were N.C. State Senator Bill Rabon, N.C. State Representative Frank Iler and NCDOT Division Engineer Karen Collette.

The bypass includes 19 new bridges, two of which are more than a mile long.

“For the first time, you’ll be able to go around Wilmington instead of having to go straight through downtown,” Little said.  “Traffic congestion on the causeway will also be improved.”

Although the bypass will soon be open to traffic, drivers will still see lane closures through the spring of 2018 as final touches on the highway are made. Once completed, residents, visitors and area businesses are all expected to benefit from the greater mobility provided by the bypass.

***NCDOT***