Improvements will include sidewalk, trail and crosswalks
Work on improving safety and pedestrian access on a venerable section of US 301 in Wilson County will start next spring.
The facelift to Ward Boulevard (U.S. 301) between Black Creek Road South and Lipscomb Road East is a jointly funded effort by the N.C. Department of Transportation and the City of Wilson. The project will add a sidewalk on one side and a 10-foot multi-use path on the other along the 1.35-mile segment of the boulevard. Additionally, the outside lanes will be widened to accommodate bicyclists.
The enhancements also will include new crosswalks with pedestrian signals at key intersections, as well as the extension or addition of turn lanes to improve traffic flow and safety. The small strip of grass that now divides the roadway will be raised with new concrete curbs and gutters, and the road’s storm-drainage system will be upgraded.
Ward Boulevard is mostly residential and has worn paths on either side where people walk.
“U.S. 301 has been a major thoroughfare in Wilson for decades,” Wilson Mayor Bruce Rose said. “With the upgrades planned, 301 will be safer and more accessible for walking, biking and driving.”
NCDOT recently has awarded a $13.6 million contract to S.T. Wooten Corp. of Wilson, which can begin work after March 15. Some additional utility lines must be relocated before work can begin. The project is scheduled to be completed in early 2020.
Additionally, the project will improve three of Ward Boulevard’s intersecting streets by adding sidewalks totaling more than a mile along portions of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, Lipscomb Road East and Herring Avenue.
In 2015, the City of Wilson won a $10 million grant from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to improve the corridor, which once was part of the old Interstate 95. The federal pot of money is highly competitive.
The city then added $2 million of its coffers toward engineering, design and right-of-way costs, and the state Board of Transportation last year chipped in $6.5 million.