Caswell County will be the beneficiary of two state-funded highway improvements over the course of the next decade, as the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) announced its series of anticipated upcoming projects across the state between 2020 and 2029.
According to a NCDOT press release, the plan, called the Draft 2020-2029 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), includes 32 new highway projects in Division 7, which covers Alamance, Caswell, Guilford, Orange and Rockingham counties.
Two projects are on the NCDOT’s slate for Caswell County - both associated with local roads that connect to N.C. Highway 86.
The first project involves roadway improvements and the construction of turning lanes from N.C. State Road 1300 (Park Springs Road) in Providence to the Caswell County Solid Waste Convenience Center. According to the NCDOT, that particular project is expected to be added with right of way in fiscal year 2020, and construction will take place in fiscal year 2022.
The second Caswell County NCDOT project is the construction of passing lanes along N.C. Highway 86 and U.S. Highway 158 from State Road 1572 (County Home Road) in Blanch to State Road 1734 (RP Fuquay Road) in Yanceyville.
County Home Road connects to N.C. Highway 86 where it combines with U.S. Highway 158 to the west of downtown Yanceyville, near one of the town’s primary shopping/dining centers that includes Food Lion, Subway, Hardee’s, Bojangles, and a variety of other businesses. RP Fuquay Road is to the east of downtown Yanceyville, also along N.C. Highway 86/U.S. Highway 158.
The construction of passing lanes through what is arguably one of the business traffic areas in all of Caswell County is anticipated to significantly minimize the risk of fatal car accidents in and around both Yanceyville and Blanch. Many head-on collisions in rural areas such as Caswell County are caused by motorists attempting to pass slower vehicles along two-lane roads.
The turning lanes will allow faster vehicles to move past slower ones with much less risk of a fatal collision. In addition, the state avoids the substantial added expense of expanding N.C. Highway 86 to four lanes, which isn’t economically or logistically feasible across its long expanse of Caswell and Orange Counties.
The County Home Road/FP Fuquay Road project will take significantly longer to commence than the work around the Solid Waste Convenience Center, as the NCDOT currently projects it to be added with right of way in fiscal year 2027, and for construction to commence in fiscal year 2028.
According to a NCDOT press release, the draft STIP includes projects across all transportation modes and in all 100 counties in the state. The list includes 1,266 highway projects, 86 aviation, 235 bicycle and pedestrian, six ferry, 23 public transit and 47 rail projects selected on statewide, regional and division levels. The projects were prioritized based on technical data as well as input from local officials and residents.
The draft plan includes about 500 changes in major highway projects from the current STIP. Half of the changes include new road projects. In addition, about 200 of those projects had schedule changes for planning or budgeting needs, and 10 projects had schedules accelerated. Another 24 projects on the current STIP didn’t score high enough this time to remain in the new draft plan. A statewide list of these major highway changes can be found on the NCDOT STIP web page.
Projects that did not score high enough in the evaluation process to be funded at the statewide level rolled over to the regional level for consideration. Projects that were not funded at the regional level could still be considered at the division level. This cascading aspect of the process ensures input from local officials and residents plays an important role in prioritizing projects for funding. More information about the STIP and how transportation projects are funded is available on the NCDOT website.
The department’s 10-year plan is updated every two years. Projects scheduled in the first five years of the plan are considered committed and are not re-evaluated when a new plan is developed, but projects in the final five years of each 10-year plan are prioritized again for consideration in the next plan. The Board of Transportation is expected to consider final approval of the draft plan this summer.
Division 7 will host an in-house week-long public comment opportunity in February or March during normal business hours. It will be a chance for interested residents to review maps and handouts about projects, ask questions of local staff, and submit comments. There will also be an opportunity for residents to submit comments online, with those details being announced later.