Gov. Bev Perdue announced today that she will accelerate the planned construction of six “urban loop” projects, including the proposed Interstate 26 connector in Asheville. Under the new schedule, the state will begin buying right-of-way by 2018, and start construction in 2020.
Speaking at a transportation summit in Greensboro, the governor said she would use bonds to accelerate the construction of the projects. Previously, the start date for the I-26 connector was unspecified, and the project unfunded. Perdue touted the economic impacts of the new construction.
The path of the proposed connector has remained a controversial issue, with competing plans endorsed by Asheville City Council, the Buncombe Board of Commissioners, the Asheville Design Center and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, among others. The issues have included the number of homes taken from the Burton Street Community and how well the connector works with downtown and multi-modal forms of transportation.
Full announcement below:
RALEIGH — Gov. Bev Perdue announced today at the Piedmont Triad Regional Transportation Summit in Greensboro a new plan to accelerate urban loop projects in six North Carolina cities. This plan moves critical transportation projects forward faster while sustaining and creating jobs.
“Investing in our state’s infrastructure is about jobs,” Gov. Perdue said. “Not only will it create jobs, but it also will build an efficient transportation network that will attract new businesses and bring more jobs to our state in the future.”
According to the Federal Highway Administration, every $1 million spent on transportation creates 30 jobs, and according to the construction industry, every dollar invested in transportation generates $6 in economic impact.
Using Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle, or GARVEE bonds, the plan significantly advances the purchase of right of way or the start of construction on urban loop projects in Asheville, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. GARVEE bonds allow the N.C. Department of Transportation to borrow against future federal funding.
Pre-construction for the work for future I-74 in Winston-Salem will take place in 2014 and NCDOT expects to ‘turn dirt’ in 2015. The urban loop program totals 353 miles, 140 of which are currently open to traffic. The estimated cost to build the remaining 213 miles is about $8 billion. At the previous funding rate, it would have taken more than 50 years to complete the program.