Economic recovery funding creates a smooth ride for North Carolina drivers

by Laura Smith, June 23, 2009

The Pendulum

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is funding a resurfacing of many of North Carolina’s highways. Photo by Lindsay Fendt.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is funding a resurfacing of many of North Carolina’s highways. Photo by Lindsay Fendt.

For those who take Interstate 40 on the commute to work every morning, expect a smoother ride come October.

Economic recovery funding is being put toward resurfacing many of North Carolina’s highways, including 4.1 miles between Guilford and Alamance counties. The project is scheduled to begin June 29 and end Oct. 30, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The award was issued by the North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Cont for $3.8 million. The resurfacing will run from I-85/40, just east of Rock Creek Dairy Road (State Road 3056) in Guilford County, to west of University Drive (S.R. 1311) in Alamance County.

“Crews will remove the existing pavement on I-85/40 and replace it with new asphalt,” said Mike Mills, the division engineer overseeing the project. “The project will provide a safer, smoother surface for the traveling public, and decrease costs associated with maintaining the existing pavement.”

On Feb. 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law and the NCDOT learned it would receive $838 million in federal funding. For highway and bridge improvements it would receive $735 million, and for transit, $103 million.

Also in February, the NCDOT identified about 70 highway and bridge projects (totaling about $446 million) in counties statewide.

On April 17, 2009, two months after the act was signed, 64 additional projects were announced, totaling about $209 million. In total, the projects equal $679 million to date.

“This project will help create and sustain jobs and provide needed economic development,” said Gov. Bev Perdue in a press release by the NCDOT.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 million spent on transportation generates 30 jobs and according to the construction industry, every dollar invested in transportation trickles down into the economy six times.

This particular project was chosen to receive the funds for four main reasons, according to the NCDOT.

The pavement on this section of interstate is cracking and rutting, and potholes are forming; there are about 120,000 vehicles that travel on this route every day (10 to 12 percent of the traffic is large trucks transporting goods across the state), work could begin shortly after the contract was awarded and be completed within several months, and the NCDOT did not need to acquire right of way for the project.

According to NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott, work will mostly take place during the evening and no more than two lanes of traffic can be closed between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.

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