June 5, 2015
Transportation Board approves projects for next decade
By IRENE NOLAN
North Carolina Board of Transportation yesterday approved the 2016-2017
State Transportation Improvement Plan, a 10-year plan that includes
nearly 1,100 projects in the state over the next decade.
plan is the first developed using the Strategic Mobility Formula, which
ranks projects according to their impact on statewide, regional, and
local levels. The formula was created two years ago with the passage of
the Strategic Transportation Investments law (STI).
Headlining the projects in Dare and Hyde counties are the Bonner Bridge
replacement and long-term bridging of Highway 12 hotspots at Pea Island
Inlet and at the S-curves north of Rodanthe.
The Bonner Bridge replacement is currently at a standstill because of
legal wrangling and confidential negotiations between NCDOT and the
Federal Highway administration on one side and the Southern
Environmental Law Center, representing two environmental groups, on the
However, in the STIP, the replacement project is slated to begin next year and cost $435 million.
The Pea Island improvements are listed in the project, but the details
have been removed. Parsons Construction Group has a $79.7 million
contract to construct the permanent bridge over the inlet created by
Hurricane Irene in 2011. The contractor started construction in
February 2014 and was scheduled to finish next spring.
However, last Sept. 10, DOT issued a stop-work order on the project
while confidential negotiations on the bridge wrangling are
underway. Since then, the area has been a confusing and messy
construction zone with supplies and equipment still stored on the site.
The plan for long-term improvements at the S-curves in north Rodanthe
are also on hold. However, the STIP lists a $198 million project that
would begin next year.
The 10-year plan calls for the replacement of one river-class ferry on
the Hatteras-Ocracoke route in 2019 at a cost of $12 million.
In Hatteras village, the plan lists $1.47 million to replace a bridge
over a canal. And on Ocracoke, it includes $8,000 in 2015 for
construction of shelters and benches as part of a park-and-ride system
-- presumably as part of a plan that DOT is now vetting that would add
passenger ferry service between Hatteras and Ocracoke villages.
In Dare County, other STIP projects include $1.49 million to replace
the Snow Goose Canal bridge in Southern Shores next year, a $13.3
million major improvement for Colington Road starting in 2018, upgrades
to a section of Bob Perry Road in Kitty Hawk and replacement of a West
Kitty Hawk Road bridge in 2021 and 2022.
Using the mobility formula, the N.C. Department of Transportation says
that it is able to invest existing transportation revenues more
efficiently, funding 303 more projects and helping support about
126,000 more jobs than it could have under the state's previous funding
The STIP includes projects in all 100 counties and all transportation
modes, making it one of NCDOT’s most comprehensive state transportation
programs to date. Transportation officials say the highway projects
alone are expected to support the creation of nearly 300,000 jobs.
“This new data-driven formula takes the politics out of transportation
and allows us to invest in more projects that will increase safety,
reduce congestion and enhance economic competitiveness," Transportation
Secretary Tony Tata said. “These projects align with Gov. McCrory’s
25-year Vision for Transportation by connecting small towns and big
cities, products to markets and people to jobs, healthcare, education
The Strategic Mobility Formula directs 60 percent of available funding
to improvements on the regional and local levels to ensure NCDOT is
meeting the varied needs of communities throughout North Carolina. The
remaining 40 percent goes to projects of statewide significance.
While projects on the statewide level are determined based only on
data, local input is considered in determining projects at both the
regional and division levels to ensure that local transportation
priorities are addressed.
Planning organizations across the state submitted projects to NCDOT for
evaluation at the local, regional and statewide levels. The projects
were scored by a data-driven process that weighed factors such as
safety, congestion and economic competiveness. Those at the statewide
level that did not score high enough to be funded also had the
opportunity to compete on the regional and division levels.
Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and Governor McCrory unveiled a
draft of the State Transportation Improvement Program in December.
NCDOT held a series of meetings over the past several months for public
comment prior to the transportation board's approval.
NCDOT updates the state transportation plan every two years to be sure
that it accurately reflects North Carolina's current financial
situation. The STI law also mandates ongoing evaluation and improvement
to ensure the process continues to be responsive to the state's diverse
A prioritization work group has already examined the current process
and developed recommendations for changes to strengthen the next
iteration of the transportation plan.
DOT says that while the STI law allows it to make more efficient use of
its existing revenue, only one in five of the 3,100 projects submitted
for prioritization in 2014 can be funded over the next 10 years with
current revenue resources.
Gov. Pat McCrory's 25-Year Vision
for transportation recognizes the need to pursue alternative funding
solutions, such as public-private partnerships and bond strategies that
will allow the state to take advantage of current low interest
rates to deliver vital infrastructure improvements for North Carolina.
McCrory has proposed two bonds of approximately $1.4 billion – one each for roads and public infrastructure.
Click here to see a map and listing of all the STIP projects.