Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:41

Rockingham Bypass accelerated in new transportation plan

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A bypass around Rockingham has been accelerated, according to a draft State Transportation Improvement Plan from the N.C. Department of Transportation. A bypass around Rockingham has been accelerated, according to a draft State Transportation Improvement Plan from the N.C. Department of Transportation. N.C. Department of Transportation

ROCKINGHAM — A highway project in Richmond County has been put on the fast track, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced Thursday.

Construction of the four-lane Rockingham Bypass from west of the city to Harrington Road has been accelerated from 2026 to 2020.

The news came as the NCDOT unveiled its draft 10-year State Transportation Improvement Plan at the monthly Board of Transportation meeting in Raleigh.

The plan includes 19 new projects in Division 8, which also covers Chatham, Hoke, Lee, Montgomery, Moore, Randolph and Scotland counties.

The bypass is currently funded in the 2018-2027 STIP, according to Division 8 spokesman Andrew Barksdale. He said the bid is expected to be awarded later this year with construction taking three years.

The projected cost of the bypass project is $74,500.

A controversial curve, which has been the site of several tractor-trailer wrecks in recent months, will “no longer be needed” once the bypass opens, according to Barksdale.

Another major project for Richmond County is the conversion of nearly 10 miles of U.S. 74 between Hamlet and Laurinburg to interstate standards. However, NCDOT officials say construction on that project won’t begin for another 10 years.

“It’s wonderful to see these kind of highway projects become funded for our area, especially the continued upgrades to U.S. 220 and U.S. 74,” Pat Molamphy, District 8 board member, said in a statement. “We use a data-driven process that also uses local input in order to prioritize what we build and where we build it.”

Molamphy and state Sen. Tom McInnis discussed several projects with the Rockingham City Council on Tuesday.

The NCDOT is also in the planning and design stage for widening Greene Street to three lanes to re-route tractor-trailers to U.S. 220 and away from downtown.

According to the NCDOT, the plan is updated every two years and those projects scheduled for the first five years are considered committed. However those in the final five years are “reprioritized for consideration in the net plan.”

The plan, which will be voted on by the transportation board this summer, includes more than 1,600 highway, aviation, bicycle and pedestrian, ferry, public transit and lightrail projects across the state, as well has 500 changes in current major highway projects.

There will be an opportunity for public comments in coming months where residents of Division 8 will be able to review maps and handouts on projects, ask questions and submit comments. 

For more information on the STIP projects in Richmond County and across the state, visit connect.ncdot.gov.