The N.C. Department of Transportation
(NCDOT) wants your input on potential impacts to transportation in North
Carolina. Provide your input in a short survey at ncmoves.metroquest.com. The survey is part of an update to
NCDOT’s long-range multimodal planning project, called NC Moves 2050. Please
participate by June 21 to give your community a voice and help NCDOT understand
what is important to you. Your feedback will help guide North Carolina’s future
transportation policies and investments.
Persons who do not speak English or
have a limited ability to read, speak or understand English may, receive
interpretive services by calling 1-800-481-6494.
Sign up to receive
information throughout the study and learn more at www.ncdot.gov/ncmoves
COLUMBUS — A major construction project in the mountains is close to completion.
N.C. Department of Transportation officials opened the last leg of the final ramp earlier this week at the interchange of U.S. 74 and Interstate 26 in Polk County. This marks the first time that all ramps and lanes are open.
“Opening all of the ramps and completing the project will provide improved access for our citizens as well as visitors to our region for many decades to come,” NCDOT Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch said. “This will enhance the lives of residents in Polk County and creates safer routes for interstate and local traffic.”
The $19 million project created two new ramps that eliminated the need for interstate traffic to mix with local traffic on at least one roundabout on N.C. 108 in Columbus.
One new ramp takes drivers from U.S. 74 West to I-26 East, and the other takes traffic from I-26 West to U.S. 74 East. The project also includes improved pipes and drainage, a new culvert, eight retaining walls, fresh riding surfaces, new paint and upgraded signs.
The contractor, Vecellio & Grogan, began construction in October 2017, and built two new bridges on U.S. 74 west of the Pea Ridge Road exit as part of the project.
Several punch-list items remain before the project will be declared complete. Crews will install rumble strips and apply new long-life pavement markings that will require short lane closures. Another section of the contract includes repaving more than 4,000 feet of N.C. 108.
MILLS RIVER — The N.C. Department of Transportation will monitor repairs to a section of Interstate 26 in Polk County damaged in a crash on May 28. JBR Environmental and Sloan Construction have been hired by the trucking company’s insurance to complete an environmental assessment and repave the westbound lanes near mile marker 70.
An NCDOT inspector will oversee the project to ensure the work meets federal and state requirements. Crews will close the left lane of westbound traffic Monday evening at 5 p.m. in order to begin soil cleanup. Milling and paving operations are expected to begin on Wednesday. Exact times of lane closures will be determined as the work progresses. For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on social media.
RALEIGH – One of the busiest travel times of the year is coming up with the Memorial Day weekend, and the N.C. Department of Transportation wants your trip to be safe.
NCDOT will pause most road construction activities that require lane closures on interstate, U.S. and N.C. routes from early Friday morning, May 24, through Tuesday evening, May 28. The actual times depend on the projects.
Lane closures will remain in place for safety reasons in some locations where conditions do not allow for lanes or roads to be re-opened, such as many bridge replacement projects or where there is no pavement or shoulder. In addition, work that does not interfere with the travel lanes can still take place over the extended weekend. Key routes where closures will remain in place include:
Key routes where closures will remain in place include:
Travelers can check ahead on the status of the routes they plan to use by going to DriveNC.gov, where conditions can be checked by route number, county or region.
Here are some additional tips for safely navigating the highways during the holiday weekend:
Buckle Up. Every seat, every time. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program and the Highway Patrol will be conducting their annual Click It or Ticket campaign, enforcing passenger safety laws.
Stay alert when going through work zones, as even if work is suspended, you may encounter narrowed lanes and traffic shifts;
Be patient and obey the posted speed limit;
Avoid distracted driving;
Don’t tailgate. Give yourself space in case traffic in front of you suddenly stops or slows down;
Travel at non-peak hours when possible, and leave early to allow extra time to reach your destination;
Consider using alternate routes to avoid usual traffic congestion locations such as near a major city; and
Obey the “Move Over Law” – which requires motorists to move over one lane, if possible, or reduce speed when emergency and construction vehicles with flashing lights are on the shoulder of the highway.
Additionally, drivers who choose to use the Monroe Expressway or Triangle Expressway are reminded they can save money on tolls using a prepaid NC Quick Pass transponder. NC Quick Pass is the North Carolina Turnpike Authority’s toll collection program. It offers drivers two ways to pay for tolls: a prepaid transponder account or the Bill by Mail program. Transponders automatically deduct tolls from a prepaid balance and provide drivers up to a 35% savings, including on the future express lanes on Interstate 77. The NC Quick Pass E-ZPass transponder can also be used for toll facilities in Florida (SunPass), Georgia (Peach Pass) and states where E-ZPass is accepted.
To help provide more options and keep people safe while walking or biking, NCDOT provides communities with support to enhance these two modes of transportation.
Applications are being accepted for the Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Grant Initiative which provides funding for municipalities to develop comprehensive bicycle or pedestrian plans. Plans should represent an all-inclusive strategy for expanding bicycle and pedestrian opportunities in a municipality, not just a singular project. These projects may include facilities, programs, policies and design guidelines that encourage safe walking and bicycling.
The deadline to submit applications electronically is Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. Recipients will be notified by November. Learn more and apply here.
From Kerry Giles, Director of Rutherford County Transit
I wanted to share some exciting news regarding Rutherford County Transit’s deviated fixed route, also now called the Tri City Xpress. Back in 2015, we worked with NCDOT to completed a 5-year plan for Rutherford County Transit. In that plan, was an outline to increase ridership on the deviated fixed route.
This route has been around for many years and travels through the core area of Rutherfordton, Spindale and Forest City. Up until 2015, ridership was pretty steady at around 350 trips per month. In January 2016, Transit received approval from the County Commissioners and the Transit Advisory Board to go fare-free on this route (the cost to citizens had been $1.00 to ride). Since 2016, we have seen our ridership grow to an average of 850 trips per month. That is a 143% increase!
However, even as happy as we were with the increased ridership, we knew that if we could shorten the route and travel time for our passengers, we would increase ridership. It took an hour and 45 minutes to complete a full loop. I applaud our Operations Manager, Jeff Hill, who spent countless hours trying to logistically lay out a route that could be shortened without cutting too many stops.
What he developed, we launched last month as the new Tri City Xpress. There are now 2 loops. One runs through Forest City and the other through Rutherfordton and Spindale. They have a transfer point at Walmart; as well as at Isothermal Community College and a few other stops in Spindale. We were concerned about passengers getting confused if they needed to transfer, but survey information indicated that many who were picked up in Forest City, also got off in Forest City. The same held true for the route through Rutherfordton and Spindale.
We have only been running these new loops for one month and for the month of April our ridership shot up to 1550 trips for the month! That is another 82% increase in ridership. We are confident ridership will continue to increase as more citizens become aware of our services. One of the main reasons for adding the 3 bus shelters in town was to gain visibility for this route.
Our next steps are to try and expand this route to include shuttle services along the Thermal Belt Rail Trail, possibly evenings and weekends. It is our belief that providing services for active lifestyles, may help us encourage more people to use transit.