Motorists are getting a much smoother ride on a 20-mile stretch of U.S. 701 from Garland to Clinton, albeit at a slower pace through the latter for the time being. Work is continuing in earnest on the segment of U.S. 701 Business within the city, however there is light at the end of the tunnel with construction anticipated to wrap up in Clinton later this month.
The significant resurfacing on U.S. 701 in southern and central Sampson, as well as a segment of U.S. 13 in the northern part of the county, are encompassed in a $14 million paving endeavor bid out last year.
City of Clinton engineer Russell Byrd spoke to the project at a City Council meeting at the end of last year and N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) officials said at the time the roadway would being receiving attention at the beginning of 2018, notably through the repair of concrete joints.
That prep work was followed by milling and resurfacing in the spring and summer months, with crews making their way up U.S. from the south in recent months and currently in the heart of Clinton.
“They have continued the first phase of the paving project, north of Railroad Street all the way up to the Jordan Shopping Center,” Byrd said this week. “They completed the southbound outside lane (Tuesday) — that’s two of the five. They intend to complete all three of those by the end of this week and finish the rest of it in town by the end of next week.”
Byrd noted that timeline is contingent on the weather and no “unforeseen delays.”
The contract was let to Barnhill Contracting Company last year. In all, the $14.2 million project totals approximately 28 miles on U.S. 701 and U.S. 13 in Sampson. There is no expense to the city or county, with funds coming from the state.
The project area on U.S. 701 includes two different segments totaling about 19 miles, the first extending from 7th Street in Garland to the U.S. 701/421 Bypass, and the other including U.S. 701 Business through Clinton extending north to Hobbton Highway.
“It is a major project,” Byrd has said.
On U.S. 13, a third segment extends from U.S. 421 at Spivey’s Corner to the Cumberland County line, close to 10 miles.
The work, DOT resident engineer Lydia McKeel has said, included milling about an inch and a half of pavement and adding about 3 inches of new asphalt. She said such projects are examined — and ultimately chosen — using a variety of different criteria. Based on funds available, pavement condition and the amount of traffic, the roadways in Sampson were selected.
“We get allocations yearly for resurfacing for primary and secondary roads,” she said. “We gather data that includes our state allocation, the results of our biannual pavement condition survey and traffic volume. The division looks at those needs and tries to balance (those funds) between counties.”
Barnhill previously cited Nov. 30, 2018 as the completion date for the total project.
Beaman bridge replacement
Running parallel to a portion of U.S. 701 Business still awaiting asphalt is a section of Beaman Street where a bridge replacement project remains in a holding pattern.
That bridge was already scheduled to be closed, and city officials have been in contact with both Barnhill Contracting Company and DOT representatives about U.S. 701 and Beaman Street.
“The latest information we have received is that it will be the middle of August before they begin that,” Byrd stated of the Beaman bridge replacement. “There have been some delays getting all the utilities out of the way of the bridge. Some of that utility work has been completed, but there are some poles still there. We are trying to get a firm date so we can get that notification to our citizens as much in advance before they close the road.”
That timeline could be impacted by the ongoing paving project on U.S. 701.
Back in May, Keith Eason, DOT district engineer for Sampson and Duplin, said there was still some “ongoing communication” regarding utility work to be completed before the bridge contractor could begin,” leading to the stretch of road being reopened to traffic.
That segment of Beaman, located in the area of Clinton Urgent Care and the Beaman Street fire station, was closed from the end of January to the end of April for utility relocation. Motorists utilized side streets Peterson Street and McArthur Lane as the primary detour from Beaman Street to U.S. 701 Business in avoiding the work through the end of April, and DOT will revert to that traffic pattern when the section is closed down again.
According to initial DOT plans, the six-month bridge replacement project had an initial start date of April 3 and a completion date slated for October. That has been put well off course.
“I think it’s probably fortuitous that the (Beaman Street) bridge is not closed, because the main detour would put additional traffic onto U.S. 701,” Byrd attested. “I think it would benefit our traveling public to have that Barnhill paving be done on U.S. 701, at least the first layer of it, before the bridge work.”
Planning for that Beaman Street bridge replacement project began in earnest in the fall of 2016, when DOT informed the City of Clinton that it was selected as part of a biannual study that factors in bridge condition, then prioritizes needs based on available funds. As part of a multi-step process between the city and DOT, utilities were located and a consultant was brought in to work with city officials through the design.
In September 2017, the City Council approved a bid from Herring Rivenbark for utility relocation in the amount of $431,050. The goal for any utility relocation is to complete it in conjunction or prior to DOT road work.
“We just want to ensure that the infrastructure is sound.” Byrd said earlier this year. “Once that is completed, the actual bridge itself will be replaced. The existing bridge is much smaller than the new one will be. That new bridge will be much wider and much longer.”
Managing Editor Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 2587.