New Highway 24 work ‘imminent’

Water and sewer work along N.C. 24, which would serve as a prelude to the N.C. Department of Transportation’s widening project, is “imminent,” Clinton officials said.

City engineer Russell Byrd gave the City Council a brief update on the progress of the N.C. 24 project at its regular Tuesday night meeting.

“They plan to begin water and sewer work along N.C. 24 beginning from the western city limits moving eastward the week of May 18. So that work is imminent,” Byrd told the board. “They will primarily be working outside the roadway although I’m sure there will be some encroachment into the roadway with that construction going on.”

Actual road construction within the city limits, including widening and paving, is “projected to start in late winter, about February 2016,” Byrd noted.

With the project’s entrance into Clinton now here, at least for the initial stages, Byrd said it was his hope to provide regular updates to Council members.

‘We have been in recent contact with the Department (of Transportation) and their contractor in obtaining some information as to the progress,” Byrd said. “We’re working to get that on a regular basis, perhaps on a weekly basis as updates are available. We’re also working with N.C. DOT and our designer for the Pierce Street extension of water and sewer. They’re working feverishly with that.”

DOT did not include in the N.C. 24 project any utility lines along Pierce Street, which runs parallel to Royal Lane. City staff said last month it would be more economical for the city to install the utilities while the road is being constructed, and moving now would prevent bigger dollars being spent in the future.

The City Council took the recommendation and approved a utility extension proposal for Pierce Street expected to cost in excess of half a million dollars, but anticipated to set the city up for potential economic development opportunities when N.C. 24 is ultimately expanded.

“This proposal would add the design for water and sewer along the Pierce Street extension. The rest of the roadway project along N.C. 24 has existing water and sewer lines that are being placed, relocated or extended to provide service to that section of the highway,” Byrd pointed out.

The original design was provided by MA Engineering Consultants Inc., which will also now include the extension in the reworked project.

“This project proposes to add water and sewer along the south side of Pierce Street,” City manager Shawn Purvis commented. “That way all that property is opened up for potential development, whether it is off those lines or a connector road that may come off this Pierce extension to Main and Elizabeth (streets). Once we have the utilities in, it just creates better opportunity for growth in that area.”

The overall N.C. 24 project proposed a four-lane roadway stretching for approximately 40 miles, from Cumberland County to Interstate 40 near Warsaw, however just three-quarters of the project was funded.

Segment A is entirely in Cumberland County, with Segment B beginning in Cumberland and ending at Dowdy Road in Sampson. Segment C extends from Dowdy Road to Mitchell Loop Road, and Segment D takes the project from Mitchell Loop Road to the U.S. 421/701 Bypass (Faircloth Freeway). Two other segments, E and F, extending from Clinton to Warsaw have not been funded despite numerous pleas from local officials.