Town gives go-ahead on U.S. 70 construction

kjahner@newsobserver.comDecember 20, 2013 

— The town has given contractors the go-ahead on a $4.5 million highway construction project seen as a catalyst for the major commercial development in the White Oak Crossing area.

With the notice to proceed issued by the town Wednesday, Fred Smith and Company will have 360 days to complete the project. It will reconfigure the interchange between I-40, U.S. 70 and White Oak/Jones Sausage Road. The work will widen U.S. 70 near that intersection and upgrade other aspects of the interchange. For example, it will add protected turns to make moving from I-40 East to U.S. 70 East to White Oak south toward the shopping center easier.

The backdrop of commuter torture on I-40 due to the rebuilding of that interstate in Raleigh will neither affect or mirror planned construction, according to planners.

“They’re not going to impact each other,” assistant town engineer Tony Chalk said.

The road work will be conducted late at night, and can consist of lane shifting rather than lane closures, since the entire road isn’t being torn up like I-40; the required changes to the existing road are more superficial.

“DOT will not let us (cause that much disruption),” Chalk said. “They have to deal with their problems because they don’t have a choice. We have a choice.”

The target completion date of Dec. 13, 2014, may herald more than new traffic patterns, as Core Properties CEO Richard Barta has said the project’s timeline will affect development alongside it.

As road work is done, Core Properties plans on developing the land north of U.S. 70 on both sides of Jones Sausage (which turns into White Oak at U.S. 70). It has announced that a Cabela’s outdoors equipment superstore and a seven-story Drury Inn hotel will open on the east side of Jones Sausage. Several additional new retail and restaurant tenants are expected to be announced in coming months in the planned $80 million development.

Barta doesn’t want new businesses opening to road construction.

Fred Smith Company indicated despite little margin for error on the mid-December end of paving season, it planned to be on time. Adam Kingsley, who does comercial estimating and deals with contracts for the company, said “it should be done sooner than 360 days,” though he didn’t want to make promises.

“We finished Timber Drive (East) ahead of schedule, and just like anybody we hope to finish ahead of schedule,” Kingsley said.

The project is being funded mostly in a split between the town and the federal government. The town will administer the project. The state is providing a small share of the funding.

As roadwork begins, commercial work on Core sites could start by January. Barta hopes to turn the Cabela’s tract over, ready to be built on by June.

Jahner: 919-829-4822; Twitter: @garnercleveland

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