The U.S. 1 Highway expansion project that has made the way between Richmond and Moore counties seem like an obstacle course for the past three years is finally complete.
Starting at the county line, the bridge over Drowning Creek was a single lane until recently, opening now into two lanes.
“This road is a vast improvement,” said Resident Engineer Marty Tillman of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. “This will be far safer. You will not have people trying to pass one another, since there are now two lanes. You will have unimpeded left turns and a decrease in rear-endings.”
What was once a two-lane road is now a four-lane highway, and in some places five-lane, because of a center turning lane. This will benefit those who live in Hoffman on either side of U.S. 1, and will help accommodate traffic headed to and from Rockingham Speedway and Rockingham Dragway.
According to Tillman, this project started on Dec. 1, 2008, and is wrapping up in the time planned. Tillman also said that, although he is unsure of final numbers, the project ended up costing less than planned. The contractor that worked the project is putting in finishing touches and next week a final inspection will take place at the project site.
At the end of September, Tillman said in an interview with the Daily Journal, “We still have some ditches to re-do for drainage. We were right on schedule for the November 15 end date, but now we will be close to that date.”
With just a few days to go until the final inspection, the project was only days late on the deadline. The project has a budget of $26.6 million, and despite setbacks during the winters due to inclement weather, Tillman said in September that he suspected the project “under-ran funds” and “between $1.3 to 3 million” will be left over when the project is complete.
Now that the road is complete, be advised that the 55 mph speed limit has not changed, transportation officials noted.
The open and wide highway will change the presentation of the county when folks travel south on U.S. 1. This has the potential to benefit both the people and businesses of Richmond County.
“This is a very positive step towards improving access to and from Richmond County,” said County Manager Rick Sago. “Anytime we increase the transportation system it helps not only our citizens, but also the businesses that use our roads for receiving and shipping products.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 43, or by email at email@example.com.