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You can now see the final plans for the US 70 freeway in eastern Johnston County

The N.C. Department of Transportation’s plans for turning U.S 70 into a freeway near Princeton include this new interchange at U.S. 70 Alternate and an extension of New Ballpark Road into town.
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s plans for turning U.S 70 into a freeway near Princeton include this new interchange at U.S. 70 Alternate and an extension of New Ballpark Road into town. NCDOT

The public will get a chance Tuesday to see the state’s plans for turning a nearly 7-mile stretch of U.S. 70 into a freeway from Princeton east into Wayne County, though construction isn’t expected to begin for several years.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has revised proposals it first presented in 2017 to try to improve access to Princeton from the planned highway and reduce the amount of real estate needed for it. Still, several homes and businesses are in the planned freeway’s right-of-way, including the Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries restaurant on Edwards Road and the Boon Hill Gallery near U.S. 70 Alternate.

NCDOT will present the plans, answer questions and take feedback from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Grace Baptist Church, 220 Barden St. in Princeton.

The state expects to spend about $255 million to bring U.S. 70 up to interstate standards from U.S. 70 Alternate, on the west side of Princeton, to the Goldsboro Bypass in Wayne County. The freeway will eventually be part of Interstate 42, which will run from I-40 near Garner to Morehead City.

NCDOT worked on its designs for the freeway with a goal of beginning construction in 2023. But the department’s latest 10-year plan, expected to be approved by the Board of Transportation later this year, would delay the project, said spokesman Andrew Barksdale. The first phase, from U.S. 70 Bypass at Goldsboro west to about Luby Smith Road near Princeton, would begin in 2025, while the second section around Princeton wouldn’t begin until 2028.

The project entails eliminating direct access to homes and businesses along this stretch of U.S. 70 and closing intersections or turning them into interchanges. New interchanges are planned at U.S. 70 Alternate; North Pearl Street/Edwards Road at Princeton, and Ebenezer Church and Capps Bridge roads in Wayne County. The interchange at U.S. 70 Alternate will include an extension of New Ballpark Road, providing new access to the southwest part of Princeton.

NCDOT had initially expected to spend about $118 million to bring this stretch of road up to interstate standards. But Barksdale said several factors have driven the price up as the state fine-tunes its designs, including higher construction and real estate costs. He also cited the addition of service roads to maintain access to businesses that will be cut off from U.S. 70.

For more information about the project or to submit comments by June 5, go to ncdot.publicinput.com/us70_goldsborotoprinceton. The public can also provide feedback to NCDOT’s project manager, Matt Clarke, at 252-640-6419 or wmclarke@ncdot.gov or the consulting project manager, Debbie Barbour, at 919-882-7839 or debbie.barbour@kisingercampo.com.

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 19 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.

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