LAURINBURG — A pair of projects affecting U.S. 74 and U.S. 401 in Scotland County are among 92 recently added to the state’s 10-year highway construction plan, the N.C. Department of Transportation announced this week.
Spurred by the 2015 state budget, which added $1.6 billion for transportation funding in the next 10 years, the North Carolina Board of Transportation also accelerated the project schedules of 90 projects already approved statewide in the 2016-2025 State Transportation Improvement Program.
An additional 66 non-highway projects are also being added to or accelerated in the program.
“The reforms I signed into law will get these roads built sooner,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. “The primary purpose of the reforms was to ensure transportation funds were being spent on transportation projects and not diverted to other state programs.”
Newly-funded projects include upgrading U.S. 74 to interstate standards between Hamlet and Laurinburg. That project is budgeted at $86.9 million and is scheduled to begin in the 2022 fiscal year.
According to Ginny Inman, communications officer for DOT Divisions 6 and 8, the project will include widening outside shoulders and removing at-grade intersections.
Currently, the speed limit on the highway drops from 70 to 55 miles per hour between Hamlet and where U.S. 74 Business splits off and leads to downtown Laurinburg. There is also a 45 mph section through Laurel Hill.
In Scotland and Hoke counties, the 20-mile stretch of U.S. 401 between Laurinburg’s northern limit and the junction with U.S. 401 Business northeast of Raeford is slated to be upgraded from two lanes to four in a project beginning in the 2025 fiscal year.
The cost of widening U.S. 401 is estimated at $162 million.
“These local projects will absolutely work to provide congestion relief and increase safety throughout the division,” Pat Molamphy, a member of the DOT Division Eight Board that covers Scotland, Richmond, Hoke, Moore, Montgomery, Lee, Chatham, and Randolph counties, said in a statement.