NC wins a big federal grant to help widen I-95, turn U.S. 70 into an interstate

I-95, U.S. 70 to get major improvements

A $147 million federal grant will bring big improvements to I-95 and U.S. 70 in eastern North Carolina
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A $147 million federal grant will bring big improvements to I-95 and U.S. 70 in eastern North Carolina

The state expects to receive $147 million from the federal government to widen parts of Interstate 95 and U.S. 70 in eastern North Carolina and install 300 miles of fiber optic cable along both highways.

The N.C. Department of Transportation applied for a federal grant under the Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program launched by the Trump administration last fall. The state's two U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, announced Tuesday afternoon that NCDOT will receive the grant, and Gov. Roy Cooper followed with a similar announcement a short time later.

The money will be used to widen 25 miles of I-95 in two sections from four lanes to eight. The first section runs from I-95 Business on the north side of Fayetteville north to the Long Branch Road exit near Dunn. The other segment runs from I-95 Business on the south side of Fayetteville south to U.S. 301 in Lumberton.

Six I-95 interchanges in the Dunn area will also be rebuilt using the federal grant.

The money will also be used to upgrade two segments of U.S. 70 to interstate standards. The first segment runs from the U.S. 70 Bypass near Selma east to Pondfield Road near Princeton, while the other section runs from a proposed interchange at Thurman Road, south of New Bern, to the planned Havelock Bypass.

Those two projects are part of a larger effort to upgrade U.S. 70 to interstate standards from I-40 to Morehead City. In addition to making the trip to the beach faster, the project will provide interstate access to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Camp Lejeune, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and one of two state ports.

The future highway will be known as Interstate 42.

Along with fiber optic cable and cell towers along both roads, NCDOT plans to erect message boards with real-time information on driving conditions.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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