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The plan to turn US 70 into a freeway in eastern Johnston County has changed

The state Department of Transportation’s revised plans for turning U.S. 70 into a freeway at Princeton include a compact diamond interchange at North Pearl Street and Edwards Road.
The state Department of Transportation’s revised plans for turning U.S. 70 into a freeway at Princeton include a compact diamond interchange at North Pearl Street and Edwards Road. NCDOT

The N.C. Department of Transportation has revised its plans for turning U.S. 70 into a freeway near Princeton in ways it says will require less sacrifice from the town.

Bringing the highway up to interstate standards around Princeton will mean cutting off access to some side roads and turning others into interchanges. NCDOT presented its ideas to the public last December and has revised them in part based on what it heard.

Among the changes:

On the east side of town, NCDOT is now proposing a compact diamond interchange at North Pearl Street and Edwards Road. It replaces an earlier design that connected U.S. 70 to Dr. Donnie H. Jones Jr. Boulevard and would have required much more real estate while also closing through traffic between Edwards and North Pearl.

A bridge will carry U.S. 70 over North Pine Street and Rains Mill Road. The public favored that rather than a bridge carrying the roads over the highway, which would have required building embankments in front of homes and side streets.

The public also favored an interchange with U.S. 70 Alternate on the west side of town, rather than the alternative at Dr. Donnie H. Jones Jr. Boulevard. A new service road will connect the interchange with Jones Boulevard, while a new extension will link it with New Ballpark Road, providing new access to the southwest corner of town.

“We received good public feedback for this project,” Matt Clarke, the project engineer for NCDOT, said in a statement. “And we are recommending alternatives that will meet interstate standards while limiting impacts to the town of Princeton and the local drivers.”

Still, the road will change how customers get to businesses and perhaps whether they get there at all. The Hardee’s on North Pine may still be visible from U.S. 70 when it becomes a freeway, for example, but customers won’t be able to get to it without backtracking through town.

The project will bring 6.7 miles of U.S. 70 up to interstate standards, from west of Princeton to the Goldsboro Bypass in Wayne County. The $130.5 million project is part of a broader effort to turn U.S. 70 into Interstate 42 between I-40 near Garner and Morehead City.

NCDOT plans to seek bids from companies to do final designs and construction late next fall. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2021. For more information about the project, including links to maps showing NCDOT’s plans, go to ncdot.publicinput.com/us70_goldsborotoprinceton.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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