The four-laning of N.C. 24 has been a decades-long thorn in Sampson County’s side, and it seems it will remain so for some time to come.
At first, it was nothing but talk, albeit with no action, about starting such a project. That dates back to the mid-1960s. Discussions ebbed and flowed during the 70s and 80s with no decisions reached. Then, some 30 years after it was first discussed, came actual movement, with more serious discussions held about a potential four-laning project. We thought progress was actually being made until an endangered woodpecker began to hold up talks once again. Finally, approval and funding moved into place in the 2000s and actual work began five years ago, in October 2013.
Yet today, we don’t have a completed project and motorists are still having to dodge barrels, search for ways into towns like Roseboro and find the patience to deal with backed-up traffic and, at times, hazardous driving conditions.
The time it’s taking to complete this project is ridiculous and the fact that we are all being held hostage by the delays is maddening.
Yet work, which we contend should have been completed long before now, is still impeding traffic, hindering a church and its congregation, stymieing business along the construction route and leaving everyone in Sampson infuriated once more.
Who came blame them?
This is a project whose time has long since passed, yet what can we do about it? Very little, if the truth be known. The roads are torn up and we are at the Department of Transportation’s mercy to get this project completed and normalcy returned.
We applaud county commissioners for taking DOT officials to task for the foot-dragging going on along the highway, where barrels, orange cones and incomplete road work still drops motorists to one lane of travel in both directions of Sunset Avenue.
And we thank them for standing up for motorists and, particularly members of Immanuel Baptist Church, who are being victimized by not only the road work but by unkempt promises that have left them with above ground utility poles they had not bargained for.
Church members cannot help that DOT changed the design because of funding shortfalls, and they should not be made to pay for those mistakes by virtue of unsightly utility poles they were told would be taken down.
The state should be made to live up to its promises to the church members.
Running out of money should be no excuse. That, in itself, shows poor management of the project, as county commissioner Jerol Kivett so aptly defined it last week. And, in fact, it’s unkempt promises and excuses like those that make us wonder if it’s money woes that have slowed progress on the road and not the so-called smaller pockets of activity that we see very little sign of in the first place.
We can’t be for certain and all we have to rely on is the word of DOT which, if you look at Immanuel Baptist Church’s situation, cannot really be relied upon at all.
While local DOT officials have had to feel the brunt of the wrath that comes from the county, residents and us, it’s the higher-ups who should be the ones answering the questions and cracking the whip to get things moving at a much faster pace, including, if necessary, working at night to alleviate some of the gnarled traffic that residents here have had to contend with far too long.
We understand the revised completion date is now Jan. 22, 2019.
DOT officials need to ensure that schedule is adhered to and that, at every chance possible, work is sped up rather than slowed so that, for once, the completion date might actually be accurate and, with real luck, earlier than expected.