Roadwork plans scaled back in North Carolina

| 9/13/2006

North Carolina is scaling back its highway construction plans for the coming seven years due to rising road-building costs and a lack of new federal dollars, according to an updated draft plan.

The draft update released last week by the North Carolina Department of Transportation outlines nearly $10 billion in highway work for the years 2007-2013. Among the projects included in the draft are 1,045 bridge replacements and 385 projects to improve urban routes, The Associated Press reported.

But it also calls for delaying some key projects that were already delayed a year ago.

The lack of money stems from increasing costs for steel, concrete, asphalt and other road-building costs that have risen about 45 percent in the past three years, The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC, reported. An expected slowdown in federal road dollars also is contributing to the problem.

The state’s transportation board is expected to make the plan for roads final by year’s end after a public comment period.

The revised plan is likely to delay construction on several projects, including the Western Wake Expressway, an extension to the Interstate 540 loop road, and widening of Interstate 85 in Orange County.

State Turnpike Authority officials say the expressway could be completed by 2011 if built as a toll road.