By Jesse Wood
Dec. 26, 2014. Earlier this month the N.C. Department of Transportation released its Draft 10-Year State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), which schedules projects proposed for full or partial funding in the state from 2016 to 2025.
A number of projects in Watauga County were among the 303 projects added because of the Strategic Transportation Investments law signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in June 2013. That law replaces the outdated Equity Formula with the Strategic Mobility Formula that prioritizes future transportation projects to receive state funding.
“The Strategic Mobility Formula takes a tiered approach to funding transportation improvements, with the statewide level receiving 40 percent of available funding ($6 billion), the regional level receiving 30 percent of available funding ($4.5 billion) and the division level also receiving 30 percent of available funding ($4.5 billion) over the next 10 years,” according to a prior release from the NCDOT.
This 10-year STIP draft released on Dec. 4 is among the final steps of implementing the new law. The High Country Council of Governments, the local rural planning organization for a number of counties including Ashe, Avery and Watauga, prioritized its final needs list and submitted it to the state. Local planning organizations repeat this process every two years. See the prioritized needs list at end of article.
In the spring, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners submitted its top four priorities to the High Country Council of Governments for consideration: widening of U.S. 421/321 near Vilas to the N.C. 105 Bypass; new bridge and left turn lane at Broadstone Road and N.C. 105 intersection; widening and road improvements at Bamboo Road and Wilson Ridge Road; and widening of N.C. 194 from King Street to Howard’s Creek Road. Earlier this year, High Country Council of Governments reached out to elected officials in all of the municipalities and counties in its region for input.
All four of those projects favored by the commissioners were added to the 10-year STIP draft.
Here are some of the projects added to the plan:
- Widening of 5.5 miles on N.C. 105 from Clarks Creek Road to N.C. 105 Bypass in Boone
- Widening of 3.5 miles on U.S. 321/421 near Vilas to N.C. 105 Bypass
- Improvements at King-College streets intersection in downtown Boone
- Widening of 1.6 miles on N.C. 194 from King Street to Howards Creek Road
- Widening of to 12-foot lanes with four-foot paved shoulders on 1.9 miles from U.S. 421 to Deerfield Road (2020 construction year)
- Widening of 4.2 miles from U.S. 221 North of South Fork of New River to south of N.C. 194 (2017 construction year)
- Widening of 1.3 miles of U.S. 321 from Blackberry Road to U.S. 221 at Blowing Rock (under construction)
- .25-mile access road from U.S. 321 to ARHS post-acute care facility (under construction)
NCDOT will hold a public comment period and public meetings in March and April to seek input on the draft STIP.
The N.C. Board of Transportation is expected to approve the final 2016-2025 STIP in June 2015, which will be the final step in implementing STI.
View an interactive map, which features dates and costs, of the draft plan up for adoption in June here.