A three-year effort to widen N.C. 42 east of Clayton will begin Monday as workers prepare to begin building a new bridge over the Neuse River.
Contractors for the state Department of Transportation will widen N.C. 42 from two to four lanes between Glen Laurel Road and Buffalo Road. The construction is expected to cost $58.7 million and be finished by the summer of 2022.
It begins with a new bridge over the Neuse River parallel to the existing one, said NCDOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale. When that’s completed, traffic will shift to the new bridge and the old one will be demolished and replaced.
The wider highway will have a raised median down the middle to reduce the number of left turns on and off the road. There will be new traffic lights at a new development between Glen Laurel and Fox Ridge roads and at Castleberry Road, Motorcycle Road and Flowers Parkway.
N.C. 42 was widened between Glen Laurel and U.S. 70 Business in 2013. The new lanes will mean the highway will be four lanes wide from U.S. 70 Business to Buffalo Road, where traffic from Flowers Plantation and other subdivisions fills the road, particularly during morning and evening commutes. N.C. 42 handled an average of 12,000 cars and trucks a day between Buffalo and Neuse River Parkway in 2017, compared to an average of 7,400 a day just east of Buffalo.
NCDOT has no plans to widen N.C. 42 east of Buffalo Road. But it does plan to modernize the highway from there to the Wilson County line, by widening the shoulders, adding turn lanes and improving intersections, Barksdale said. That work isn’t scheduled to get underway until 2026.
The work that begins Monday should not be confused with the planned widening of eight miles of N.C. 42 on the west side of Clayton, between U.S. 70 Business and N.C. 50, near I-40. Construction on those lanes isn’t expected to begin until 2022.