“This section of the Wilmington Bypass U.S. 17 has been built to interstate standards. The long-term vision is for it to become a part of I-140 in the future,” said Allen Pope, N.C. Department of Transportation division engineer.
Based on available funding, the work may not take place for a number of years.
The decision to not designate the road at this time was based on the Military Cutoff Road Extension/Hampstead Bypass projects, Pope said.
“The current proposal is that the intersection of these three projects would be an interchange. If this interchange is added to an existing interstate route, the Federal Highway Administration would play a larger role in the planning and review of this project,” Pope said.
Pope said in order to shorten the planning and additional review time, N.C. DOT’s decision “was not to utilize federal dollars for the Military Cutoff/Hampstead Bypass projects. Therefore, the department will be building a state-funded project that will have an interchange with an existing state-funded project.”
An environmental impact statement that would be done as part of the project would be subject to state law rather than federal law and save time, Pope said.
“The time savings will be in the review and approval process with the FHWA,” he said. “These two projects will be built separately, but the EIS will cover both projects.”
The FHWA is still a part of the review process and are a commenting agency, Pope said.
The current N.C. DOT schedule calls for the Military Cutoff/Hampstead Bypass EIS to be complete in spring 2012.
“At that point, the primary issue in getting these projects built will be the availability of funds for construction,” Pope said.
The current schedule for Military Cutoff Road extension is right of way work beginning in 2014 and construction in 2017. The Hampstead Bypass schedule calls for right of way work to begin in 2017. Construction is not funded, meaning it won’t take place until “sometime after 2020,” Pope said.
Date posted: January 15, 2011
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