The N.C. Department of Transportation announced Thursday two highway projects intended to ease traffic and make traveling through Richmond County safer.
One project will convert U.S. 74 from Hamlet to Laurinburg — now a four-lane highway — into an interstate highway with ramps, loops and bridges, said NCDOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale, The project is intended to begin in 2028.
“For this section, it will be $136 million,” Barksdale said. “It will be a lot safer and a lot quicker” getting onto the highway from new ramps and bridges, he said, rather than side roads where people tend to stop rather than merge.
The project also will benefit Richmond County, he said, because drivers will be able to get to beaches quicker, and goods will travel to Wilmington ports faster.
Quicker beach travel also should be a perk of the second of the two highway projects in Richmond County.
In 2020, NCDOT plans to complete construction of the two remaining sections on the Rockingham Bypass — U.S. 220 north toward Ellerbe.
“Before (the money was committed on Thursday), it would have been another several years from now before we would have started,” Barksdale said. Now, he said, engineers will be able to accelerate the project, completing the last sections and decreasing congestion in downtown Rockingham.
“This is a big win for Richmond County,” Barksdale said. “Interstates will create more opportunities for economic development, so that’s exciting news for the community.”
NCDOT on Thursday identified 138 regional highway, aviation, ferry, rail and transit projects it anticipates financing and scheduling for construction. The list includes $2.4 billion for 115 highway projects, $96 million for seven rail projects, $26 million for three ferry projects,and $191 million for three transit projects.
Six projects will take place in Highway Division 8, which includes Richmond County.
NCDOT announced Thursday that it would convert U.S. 74 between Hamlet and Laurinburg from a four-lane road into a highway with on-ramps and bridges, eliminating direct access from crossroads.
Reach Jasmine Hager at 910-817-2675 or [email protected]