Feds Award Grant To Help With I-95 Widening

Part of a $147 million grant will help pay for eight-laning

The federal government is pitching in money to help pay for the eight-laning of Interstate 95 from Benson to Eastover.

The U.S. Department of Transportation will award the State of North Carolina $147 million to help fund the 25 miles of expansion of I-95 from Eastover to Benson and upgrade the remaining sections of US 70 to interstate grade, allowing the freeway to become Interstate 42. The announcement came from U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

“I am pleased that North Carolina will receive the resources we need to continue updating our crucial highway corridors,” said Sen. Burr. “These projects will modernize our roads and decrease congestion in areas that have become overburdened by traffic and delays. They will also improve our emergency preparedness in the event of a natural disaster and will establish reliable access to four vital military bases. In the process, this work and development will help boost economic growth in local communities.”

As part of the widening project NCDOT has been planning for years, all six overpasses in Dunn will be replaced. This is the first part of the widening project.

During a citywide meeting in late March with engineers, planning and contractors, it was announced construction on the overpass replacements should begin in the fall of 2020 after work is bid out in July of that year. It should take about three years to complete.

The biggest confusion with the overpass plan in Dunn is getting off the interstate in Dunn at Exits 72 and 73.  There are property owners who will lose their land. There are nine properties that are “total takes” including the Brass Lantern and a family cemetery. And there are 14 properties that are partial takes. The right-of-way acquisitions are ongoing. That’s being done by American Acquisition Group.

The next step in this project is the Benson interchange where land acquisition will start in early 2019.

The widening construction on I-95 is scheduled to begin in 2026.

The widening project has been in the works for years.

In February, 2012 NCDOT released results of its I-95 study, within it a proposal to widen the interstate to eight lanes through Dunn.

The assessment was part of an NCDOT study that looked at all 182 miles of I-95 through North Carolina and specifically what changes needed to be made to improve safety, connectivity and efficiency on the interstate.

Among the recommendations that were made were widening I-95 to eight lanes from Exit 31 north to Exit 81 in Benson, and widening the remaining portion of I-95 through North Carolina to six lanes.

Work on widening I-95 was set to start in 2016, but after a backlash from proposed tolls, the plan was set aside.

There are no tolls in the new plans.

NCDOT has said it may be 25 to 30 years before the entire project is complete. Story and photo courtesy The Daily Record