I-95 widening set to begin next year

FAYETTEVILLE – The immense task of doubling the number of lanes on Interstate 95 in North Carolina begins next year, and the public is invited to meetings this month in Cumberland and Johnston counties to review the accelerated schedule and preliminary design maps.

The N.C. Department of Transportation plans to award a contract next spring to a design and construction team that will widen I-95 from four lanes to eight lanes between exit 56 (Eastover) in Cumberland County and exit 71 (Long Branch Road) in Harnett County. Then, in 2020, the department is scheduled to award another contract to further expand the freeway between exit 71 and exit 81 in Benson where I-95 and Interstate 40 converge.

The public meetings from 5-7 p.m. are:

• Thursday, Oct. 11, at the Hampton Inn, 100 Water Place Landing, Benson

• Thursday, Oct. 18, at the Falcon Children’s Home Activity Building, 7555 N. West St., Falcon

The same information will be presented at both open houses, which are informal and designed to let people examine maps, talk with NCDOT representatives and provide feedback. The department will accept comments on the projects through Nov. 2.

In all, 25 miles will be widened from four lanes to eight lanes. Additionally, at least six interchanges and overpasses will be rebuilt with new bridges that will be taller and longer. The combined projects are estimated to cost more than $700 million in construction and land acquisition.

“I-95 is our East Coast main highway and a vital link in our state for business expansion, residential growth and tourism,” said Grady Hunt, who represents Division 6 on the N.C. Board of Transportation. “This will be a significant investment in North Carolina.”

The projects will mark the state’s first substantial upgrade of I-95, which was built beginning in the 1950s under President Dwight Eisenhower. The sections to be widened were scored using such criteria as congestion management and traffic volume and received funding in the department’s State Transportation Improvement Program. The project is partially being funded by a $147 million federal program known as Infrastructure for Rebuilding America, or INFRA. The department was awarded the grant this summer to improve highways and broadband service in Eastern North Carolina.

State transportation officials hope to widen other sections of I-95 in future projects that also will be scored and compete with other highway needs around the state.

For more information or to send comments, contact Scott Pridgen at Division 6 at 910-364-0603; [email protected]; or P.O. Box 1150, Fayetteville, N.C., 28302.