Fort Bragg leaders asking for state's help in improving roadways

Money and our roads don't mix, and it could end up costing the area some big money.
January 24, 2014 3:51:31 PM PST
Infrastructure will be key to Fort Bragg and regional growth, as the post looks ahead to benefitting from another possible Base Realignment and Closure process, commonly known as BRAC. Now post leaders are looking to state government to help in solving infrastructure issues that could block those benefits.

It's a message that was delivered during Friday's annual Fort Bragg Alliance meeting, held in Fayetteville. Local and military leaders spoke on economic impact of Fort Bragg, its families and the future of that footprint in the Sandhills.

In his address, Fort Bragg Garrison Commander Col. Jeffrey Sanborn said the military will look at training land availability and highway infrastructure when considering a relocation of troops and their families during the next round of BRAC. In 2005, part of the BRAC agreement resulted in the construction of the I-295 corridor, from U.S. Highway 401 to I-95. The North Carolina Department of Transportation is expected to announce awards that would start construction on more I-295 connectors, relieving congestion in roadways connected to Fort Bragg, including Cliffdale and Raeford Roads.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that current city congestion and aggressive driving are being linked to higher vehicle accident rates on Fort Bragg, according to Sanborn. On top of that, post roadway conditions are receiving poor ratings according to United State Department of Transportation grades.

"Forty-two of our 57 major intersections on Fort Bragg are either on a failed or failing status," said Sanborn, noting the status is due to factors like traffic light timing.

Sanborn says military construction funds would not scratch the surface to fix these issues, so he and other post leaders have started reaching out to state lawmakers, asking them to consider giving back most or all of the state gas tax it collects from the post annually. That totals $8 million a year, and it could fix at a few intersections annually, making Ft. Bragg's infrastructure more valuable to Army leaders looking at relocating troops to the post during BRAC.

"It is our position that it sure would be good if the state reinvested something on the order of $8 million into our footprint, given that it's our folks here on Fort Bragg that they're collecting those taxes from," said Sanborn.

Fort Bragg is home to 57,000 troops. Since the BRAC in 2005, the post has grown in population by 20 percent, but stands to lose four percent of that after government budget cuts known as sequestration. Since those cuts, Fort Bragg has an estimated $10 billion economic impact on the Sandhills region.

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