The N.C. Department of Transportation has reached out to Wendell, hoping for assistance on a study that will hopefully lead to upgrades on U.S. Highway 64 and eventually I-495.
Toward the end of February, the NCDOT wrote to Town Manager Teresa Piner requesting feedback for an unfunded project that would polish up U.S. 64 from Rolesville Road at Knightdale Bypass to U.S. Highway 17 in Williamston to meet interstate standards.
Last summer, Joe Milazzo from the Regional Transportation Alliance discussed the implications of the future I-495 to Wendell’s Economic Development Committee, saying it could take decades for the project to finish – but could become a key route connecting the Triangle to other strong economic areas, like southeastern Virginia.
One of the main projects that would update U.S. 64 and make it a current interstate would be upgrading the highway and widening the shoulder and possibly ditching the U.S. 64 name.
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According to the recent letter, written by Lynnise Hawes in the NCDOT Feasibility Studies Unit, the department is seeking “information on the scope and estimated costs of proposed improvements.”
If the study is completed and the project funded, planning for the project will include design, environmental considerations and public feedback.
Piner responded saying that the study would “assist the town as we plan for potential improvements in these areas in coordination with the NCDOT.”
She responded on March 31, with questions regarding:
▪ the process and timeline for the funding and construction after the study
▪ the previous cost estimates for future “I-495” between I-540 and I-95 to meet interstate standards
▪ whether interstate improvements from I-540 to I-95 would be completed simultaneously to the proposed section.
Knightdale did not receive a letter seeking comment, according to Town Manager Seth Lawless.
The study is just part of the effort to prod the project along. Town officals up and down the U.S 64 corridor from Knightdale to Williamston were invited to attend a meeting in Tarboro on April 8 to discuss partnerships aimed at supporting the effort to improve the corridor and improve it’s ability to serve as a link from the Triangle to southeastern Virginia.
That meeting is being hosted by a group called the Highway 17 Association. Another meeting is set for April 15 hosted by a group called the NC East Alliance.
Highway 17 Association consultant Marc Finlayson, in an email to representatives of 24 governments, said the two groups are operating separate campaigns. “But in my mind, (they are) closely coordinated and with the common purpose of promoting the interstate highway for northeastern North Carolina,” Finlayson wrote.