Why those road projects?

February 25, 2009 3:32:06 PM PST
North Carolina is about to get millions of dollars in federal stimulus money for road projects. The Governor put out a list of projects she'll use the first big chunk of money on Tuesday.

Click here to read the complete list (.pdf)

But now, some are questioning that list. Some of the projects appear to be fixing roads that are in good if not decent shape.

About $400 million will spread across the state on about 70 projects. Some 15 of them are in the Triangle area -- including part of I-540, which to the eye looks and drives pretty well.

"I've driven 540 and I don't see it that bad to need repaving right now," offered driver Steve Davis.

But I-540 between I-40 and US 70 will be resurfaced to the tune of about $4 million. It's one of about 15 "shovel-ready" projects in the Triangle getting the green light thanks to the influx of money.

Among other projects: resurfacing a large section of the Beltline from Wade Avenue to Wake Forest Road, costing another $4 million.

Locally, Wake County will have seven road projects. Johnston County one, and Durham County five projects.

Instead of resurfacing part of I-540, some would prefer to see the funds go to other projects like the continued building the 540 loop in southern Wake County.

"That would be great. For people that travel around Raleigh, that continued loop on around, that would be a great help," said Davis.

DOT Secretary Gene Conti says it's not that simple. North Carolina got the stimulus money with conditions.

"For that first 120 days, we had to make some judgments about what can we get under contract quickly," he explained.

About 400 million dollars has to be contracted out within four months - much of it going to projects that had been delayed or deferred because of lack of funding. Conti says all are important - even in cases like I-540.

"That preservation aspect is a key component of what we're trying to do rather than keep expanding our system, we need to make sure we keep our existing system in good shape," he offered.

The DOT also has to spend the second half of the stimulus money -- about $400 million more, within a year. 52 counties didn't get any money in the first round.


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