MARSTON — The wonky intersection of U.S. 1 with N.C. 177 will straighten out a bit as the N.C. Department of Transportation continues to widen the highway north of the Rockingham Motor Speedway.
Last week, N.C. DOT awarded a nearly $11.4 million contract to R.E. Goodson Construction Co. of Darlington, South Carolina, whose workers will widen U.S. 1 between just north of the speedway to north of Fox Road — approximately 3½ miles.
Work is scheduled to begin in July and be completed in spring 2021.
“As part of this new construction project, … we will slightly reconfigure the U.S. 1-N.C. 177 intersection,” ” DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said Tuesday.
“The bottom line for U.S. 1 and N.C. 177 is that we will redesign it a bit to make it safer and easier for motorists on N.C. 177 to get onto U.S. 1.”
When construction is complete, the section of U.S. 1 near the speedway and neighboring Rockingham Dragway will have five lanes, including a center/turn lane.
“This design does two things,” Barksdale said. “It reduces the impact on the property at the speedway, and it also allows for reversible lanes for big events at the race tracks to improve the mass traffic coming or leaving.”
The long-term plan is to widen U.S. 1 throughout Richmond County, Barksdale said. At one point, the plan included rerouting U.S. 1 around Rockingham.
“But traffic projections on U.S. 1 have gone down,” Barksdale said, “so we are now considering how to widen the rest of U.S. 1 on its existing route. We hope to secure funding (for continued widening), but it may take several years.”
DOT also wants to begin widening East Greene Street in 2022. The $6.5 million project would widen the street to three lanes so tractor-trailers could go between U.S. 1 and U.S. 220 without driving through downtown Rockingham.
That project is part of the State Transportation Improvement Program, N.C. DOT’s 10-year plan to finance transportation projects.
Last November, the Richmond County Board of Commissioners approved a bid to clear a water line to make room for widening U.S. 1 near the speedway, starting at the intersection with Marston Road.
Since then, workers have crowded the sides of the highway, laying pipes and rewiring telephone lines.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]