ROSEBORO — N.C. 24 is getting its fair share of attention with its massive widening endeavor, as it will for years to come, but one lesser-known road off that main thoroughfare has been bustling with activity as of late.
At long last, one of the final unpaved roads able to be resurfaced in Sampson County is officially the site of work.
Department of Transportation (DOT) maintenance engineer Keith Eason said earlier this week that the roadway is getting
“This is a pretty big announcement, at least for me,” Eason said of the Keith Road work. “Funding and some other things had to be moved around to make this happen.”
Keith Road, located off N.C. 24 (Roseboro Highway), just west of the Sampson County Landfill, was previously tapped for $150,000. However, a new system went into effect in 2014 that funded roads on a statewide priority basis rather than at the county level, meaning Sampson’s unpaved roads were vying against others in more densely-populated areas.
“A lot of roads did not make it on the list. Keith Road did fall on the list, but it was (ranked) number 1,281, which is pretty low as far as statewide priority,” Eason explained last year.
Under the law, which went into effect in July 2014, DOT gives county commissioners a list of the roads that get priority in its annual paving program. While that in itself was nothing new, it is no longer a county-by-county process where each county has its own list of roads that respective county boards must approve for paving. Rather, it is a notification of the state’s list.
The state grouped them on a statewide basis and put so much money in a pot. Some unpaved roads in Duplin and Sampson still made the list, such as Keith Road, but they were low on that list, which has translated to no new funding for construction.
Despite that, Eason said last year that Keith Road would be receiving as much attention as current funding permits.
“Because it was funded with the old method and that funding source is no longer relevant, the partial funds are still there (for Keith Road), but we don’t have any new funds at this time,” Eason said. “My plan is to go ahead and do what the funds allow, which I hope is to construct the road and do everything but asphalt.”
That work never fully came to fruition, but is now a full-go, with heavy equipment on site doing work throughout this week.
Eason said the preliminary grade and base work would be done by this fall, with paving tentatively set for next year.
U.S. 701 closure
The U.S. 701 Bridge over Great Coharie Creek, south of Clinton, is closed until the end of this month to enable crews to make repairs to the beams, according to a DOT announcement.
The closure began at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 13. The bridge is expected to reopen July 27.
“The bridge is safe for travel, however weather and normal wear have eroded the beam seats that support the bridge girders,” the announcement read. “Crews will repair or replace the beam seats in order to ensure that the bridge will continue to support the traffic load.”
DOT’s bridge program targets structures that need rehabilitation or replacement across the state. Governor Pat McCrory’s budget for 2016-17 increases repair and replacement funding for bridges by 58 percent, totaling $242 million.
During the closure, traffic will use Harrells Highway, Lisbon Bridge Road and Ingold Old U.S. 701 Highway for a detour, according to transportation officials.
Motorists are advised to use caution while traveling in the area and to expect possible delays. DOT has reminded drivers to watch signs for construction information, stay alert and obey the posted speed limit.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.