First Posted: 1/15/2009
While improvements to U.S. 74 are on track, all other state Department of Transportation road projects in Robeson County will be delayed at least five months.
The 2007-2013 draft State Transportation Improvement Plan includes $868.2 million for transportation-related improvements in Robeson County.
Statewide, the proposed Transportation Improvement Program includes $9.7 billion in highway projects, including 1,045 bridge replacements and 385 projects to improve urban highways.
But the plan also pushes back work here for five months, with some projects postponed up to two years.
Janet Robertson, rural transportation planner at the Lumber River Council of Governments, said the half-year delay was because of increased construction costs and fewer federal dollars.
“Construction costs have gone up 45 percent and we have not gotten the same kind of increase in federal dollars,” Robertson said.
The delay will not alter the work begun in 2004 to widen to four lanes a 20-mile stretch of U.S. 74 from the Maxton bypass to N.C. 41 near Lumberton. The highway is expected to eventually become part of the Interstate 73/74 corridor.
In addition to the five-month delay, several bridge replacements will be pushed back at least a year. They are: Ashpole Swamp on Purvis Road, Little Marsh Swamp on Carolina Church Road and Big Marsh Swamp on Russell Road.
DOT officials said the timetables for projects were pushed back “to assist in balancing funds.”
Resurfacing work for University Drive at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke will also be pushed back to 2007. The work, expected to cost $69,000, was supposed to be completed this year.
The first phase of the restoration of Atlantic Coast Line Railway depot in Parkton is also scheduled to begin in 2007. It will cost an estimated $202,000. The DOT has not given a date for work to begin on the railroad depot in Rowland. The price tag for that work currently stands at $134,000.
Roberston said for the most part Robeson managed to avoid the kinds of delays that some major areas in the state could see. In the Triangle, for example, the DOT has proposed halting spending on land acquisition and construction for a $351.4 million, 12.4-mile route that would run from Research Triangle Park to Holly Springs.
“We've actually done pretty well,” she said. “We haven't had any major delays like some of the big project in other places in the state.”
The state Board of Transportation will hold a series of public hearings before finalizing the plan by December.