CARTERET COUNTY — Officials with the N.C. Department of Transportation recently announced engineers have resumed planning and design work on several projects previously on hold because of department-wide funding issues.
However, changing cost estimates could continue to push back the timelines of some of those efforts.
Len White, NCDOT Division 2 planning engineer, shared the project updates during a Carteret County Transportation Committee meeting held via Zoom June 16. He said three major Carteret County projects that were originally paused near the onset the coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago have resumed.
According to Mr. White, work has picked back up on a project to widen Arendell Street from around 4th Street to Radio Island from two lanes to four. That project, which is still in the earliest preliminary engineering stages of development, involves the complicated task of widening the high-rise bridge over the Newport River. It is expected to cost more than $120 million and is currently scheduled to begin construction in fiscal year 2027.
Mr. White also shared work has resumed on an intersection improvement project for the highway 58/24 intersection in Cedar Point. It aims to reduce congestion at the busy intersection by building additional dedicated right turn lanes, with construction slated to begin in 2025 at a cost around $6.2 million.
Finally, Mr. White said a roughly $1 million project adding a new right turn lane from the Atlantic Beach Causeway onto Highway 58 is back on. Of the recently resumed projects, that one is scheduled to come to fruition the soonest, with construction scheduled to begin in 2022.
“I think it’s scheduled, if nothing changes with all the new estimates being presented, it’s supposed to be let (for construction) February of ’22,” Mr. White said.
As for cost estimate revisions, Division 2 corridor development engineer Diane Hampton shared with the transportation committee she and other corridor engineers had been tasked with updating pricing estimates for around 1,000 projects NCDOT has selected for funding.
The projects are included in the State Transportation Improvement Program, a 10-year plan updated every two to three years that identifies funding and construction schedules for transportation projects throughout the state.
“We’re trying to do about 1,000 estimates to make sure the STIP reflects current accurate pricing, and that’s quite a challenge,” Ms. Hampton said. “Our deadline is June 30, so when that rolls around, (NCDOT) may come out with some shuffling of projects due to funding because the STIP-committed projects have to be funded out of funds that are available.”
Ms. Hampton said many of the projects are coming in with higher cost estimates than originally anticipated due to rising construction costs, which could affect project scheduling.
The state transportation representatives did not provide any updates on another project that has been paused since the fall of 2019, the Bridges Street extension project. Officials announced earlier this year construction on the roughly 3-mile project, originally scheduled to begin in 2025, is being delayed until at least 2028. Engineers were in the process of selecting a preferred alternative route when it was put on hold.
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.