Shared by IRPO–Interstate Ramp Closed Near South Carolina

Closure needed for I-26/U.S. 74 interchange

MILLS RIVER – A contractor for the N.C. Department of Transportation has closed the ramp from Interstate 26 West to U.S. 74 East as part of the interchange improvement.

The closure only impacts traffic heading west from South Carolina and desiring to head east on U.S. 74. The work to remove existing guardrail and complete embankment construction should be complete by April 6.

That traffic is being detoured to N.C. 108 through Columbus as it was for the same closure in January. To do so, motorists should take Exit 67, enter the roundabout, and take the first right to N.C. 108/West Mills Street. From there, follow N.C. 108 through Columbus to the interchange with U.S. 74.

Through traffic on I-26 will not be impacted, nor will traffic from the Forest City direction on U.S. 74 seeking to go either direction on I-26. Columbus traffic seeking to access I-26 West will not be impacted by this closure.

Transportation officials remind motorists to slow down in work zones and obey all posted traffic signs.

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on Twitter.


Shared by IRPO–Creative Skits Carry Weight at Bridge Competition

Polk Early College and Polk County Middle School advance to State Championship

MORGANTON – Victory Christian’s Michael Cartwright nailed his rap and Matt Loman of Polk Early College made the judges laugh.

Entertainment matched the engineering portion of N.C. Department of Transportation’s Region 4 Model Bridge Building Competition on Friday at the Collette Street Rec Center.

With scores for the presentation nearly equal, Loman and his Polk County teammates advanced to the state championship on the strength of a bridge that held more weight than the competition.

“I’ve enjoyed tinkering,” said Loman, who collaborated with teammates every Thursday to practice their skit, review designs for their bridge and glue together replacement models. “Science Club is one of the biggest clubs at our school and everybody did a little something to help.”

Polk Early College scored 73 points and advanced to the championship, which will be held April 20 in Raleigh. Victory Christian finished runner-up. Polk County Middle school won the middle school division with a score of 40 points.

The competition is scored on a combination of a written report, a design drawing, an oral presentation — a music video for Victory Christian, an infomercial for Polk Early College, and an education production for Polk Middle School —in addition to the weight-bearing limit of their bridge. NCDOT engineers and engineering company executives served as judges.

The competition is designed to provide students with a hands-on opportunity to apply their science, technology, engineering and math skills in a real-world scenario.

Victory Christian’s oral presentation included the lyrics, “We’re on a mission to make it to the bridge competition.” Polk Early College’s infomercial skit pitched their bridge, dubbed “Robert Frost V2,” as something that’s extraordinary.

“When you build a bridge, you have to follow a plan,” Polk Early College sophomore Mason Lassiter said. “I learned the importance of triangles — how strong they are — and there are lot of things you can do to make things stronger with less materials.”



Shared by IRPO: Winners of 2018 NC Aviation Art Contest Announced

Congrats to Alexandria Lois Anderson of Rutherfordton (Polk County Early College High) and all who participated!

RALEIGH – After receiving a record 1,246 entries, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division of Aviation is proud to announce the winners of this year’s Aviation Art Contest.

After two weeks of judging and voting, the winners across three age groups have been announced and can be seen below.  This year’s theme was “Flight into the Future.”

Junior Division (Birthday between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011):

  • 1st place: Victoria Raggio of Charlotte (Lake Wylie Elementary)
  • 2nd place: Tanav Repala of Charlotte (Providence Spring Elementary)
  • 3rd place: Augusto Perera of Durham (Healthy Start Academy)
  • 4th place: Beckham Case Clawson of McArdenville (Ida Rankin Elementary)
  • 5th place: Sriansh Lingidi of Cary (Mills Park Elementary)
  • 6th place: Sophie Cline of Kannapolis (Woodrow Wilson Elementary)
  • 7th place: Anvi Choudepally of Morrisville (Cedar Fork Elementary)
  • 8th place: Jessica H. Wu of Cary (Davis Drive Middle)
  • 9th place: Rushil Reddy of Cary (Chesterbrook Acedemy)
  • 10th place: Angelina Lu of Cary (Davis Drive Middle)

Intermediate Division (Birthday between Jan. 1, 2004 and Dec. 31, 2007):

  • 1st place: Hong Suk Choi of Cary (West Cary Middle)
  • 2nd place: Jennifer Nguyen of Morrisville (West Cary Middle)
  • 3rd place: Isabel Chang of Cary (Davis Drive Middle)
  • 4th Place: Rebekah Readling of Davidson (Brawley Middle)
  • 5th Place: Madison Hight of Henderson (Oxford Preparatory High)
  • 6th place: Esther Lee of Raleigh (Pine Hollow Middle)
  • 7th place: Catherine Su of Apex (Mills Park Middle)
  • 8th place: Gabrielle Magner of Charlotte (Northwest School of the Arts)
  • 9th place: Rayne Williams of Winston-Salem (Speas Academy)
  • 10th place: Lauren Hodgson of Greenville (St. Peter Catholic)

Senior Division (Birthday between Jan. 1, 2000 and Dec. 31, 2003):

  • 1st place: Hyunmin Ra of Fayetteville (Berean Baptist Academy)
  • 2nd place: Emma R. Kerns of Sherrills Ford (Liberty Preparatory Christian Academy)
  • 3rd place: Alexandria Lois Anderson of Rutherfordton (Polk County Early College High)
  • 4th place: Zhe (Helen) Zhang of Cary (Green Hope High)
  • 5th place: Vicky Liu of Lumberton (Robeson Early College High)
  • 6th place: Cassidy English of Lillington (Harnett Central High)
  • 7th place: Sarah Extrom of Lewisville (Ronald W. Reagan High)
  • 8th place: Xinyao (Lucy) Fu of Apex (Apex High)
  • 9th place: Micah “Caprice” Coffey of Lincolnton (Lincoln Charter)
  • 10th place: Jiayu Fu of Apex (Apex high)

In addition to winning cash prizes for themselves and their schools, the top three in each age division have had their artwork submitted to the National Aviation Art Contest.

The 1,246 entries this year represented 144 hometowns and 130 schools.  A total of 3,440 students have participated in the NC Aviation Art Contest over the last four years. Artwork from all finalists will be found on the NCDOT Flickr page.

Shared by IRPO: Bridge Building Begins on U.S. 74

Work to be complete in time for World Equestrian Games

SYLVA – N.C. Department of Transportation has begun construction on U.S. 74 near Pea Ridge Road in Polk County to build two bridges that will carry U.S. 74 traffic over a new road being constructed below.

Construction should be completed late this summer in time for the World Equestrian Games, to be held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring. The games are expected to attract more than 500,000 people from around the world and will be staffed by residents from across western North Carolina.

The two-lane roadway below U.S. 74 will connect John Shehan Road to property north of the highway in Polk County. Vecellio & Grogan is performing the bridge work for $5.7 million.

During construction, traffic will be shifted into temporary single lanes on the existing median. Later during construction, the U.S. 74 westbound on-ramp from Pea Ridge Road will be closed. A marked detour will direct traffic east on U.S. 74 to Union Road, under U.S. 74, then to the westbound on-ramp.

Drivers should slow down in work zones, obey all posted signs, and watch for workers.

For real-time travel information, visit or follow NCDOT on Twitter.





A Look at Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning Activities Happening in Isothermal RPO

On February 27th, the Towns of Tryon and Columbus kicked off their joint Bicycle and Pedestrian Planning effort with their first Steering Committee meeting at the Polk County library.

Steering members heard an overview of the planning effort developed by the Kimley-Horn, the chosen consultant. Next, the Steering Committee members provided input for the vision and goals for the Plan and provided additional information on the strengths, challenges, opportunities, risks, and expectations for the planning effort. Be on the look-out for information on upcoming public workshops over the next several months!


In the afternoon on the 27th, Isothermal RPO, along with Alta Planning + Design held the last Steering Committee meeting for the Isothermal Bicycle Plan, which covers Cleveland, McDowell, Polk, and Rutherford counties! The RPO is looking forward to the final Plan and the four county-specific brochure maps that will be part of the final deliverables. Please go here to find out more about this effort! IRPO would also like to thank all those that have been involved!


Shared by IRPO–From This Week at NCDOT: Rural Road Safety

The N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program, North Carolina State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies have kicked off efforts to reduce fatalities on rural roadways in an initiative called Survive the Drive.

This campaign focuses on getting drivers to follow the speed limit and not drive distracted while on secondary roads. The target areas are five counties with high fatality and crash rates: Cleveland, Harnett, Johnston, Sampson and Randolph.

In the last five years, there were 1,154 fatalities due to speeding on our state’s highways, while an additional 482 people died because of distracted driving.

Community leaders on a new task force recently met in Robeson County to begin tackling their high rates of vehicle crashes. The county ranks as the deadliest in the state for crashes. As part of the N.C. Vision Zero initiative, this is the first such countywide effort in the state to reduce highway deaths.

To learn how you can get involved, visit

For more information about NCDOT Now, contact the NCDOT Communications Office at (919) 707-2660. Additional news stories from throughout the week can be found on