By Catharin Shepard •
Staff writer •
Work is ongoing in the planning process for turning N.C. 211 between Raeford and Aberdeen into a four-lane road, according to a project schedule from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT).
A website for the project, dubbed R-5709 in the state’s transportation plan, noted in the project timeline that the state’s environmental documentation is scheduled for this summer. Right-of-way acquisition could start as soon as this fall, and construction could start in fall of 2023. However those future dates are preliminary and subject to change, and are based on the adopted 2020-2029 NDOT state transportation improvement plan (STIP), the timeline noted.
State DOT officials have said the right-of-way negotiations will take some time. The acquisition process is scheduled to continue through 2022.
Despite a statutory cash reserve issue at NCDOT earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the project is still underway and construction should not be delayed, according NCDOT officials.
The state also this week provided a public document with responses to the 55 written comments citizens submitted about the project. Of the 55 written comments, 22 involved design requests or questions including U-turn bulb placement, turn lanes, signals and roadway design; 11 were concerns about specific impacts to properties such as loss of structures, parking, driveways and land; 10 were questions regarding right-of-way acquisition; six were barrier and landscaping requests; three were questions about drainage improvements; three involved utility questions and placement; and three were general comments.
Many of the comments were requests from property owners asking the designers to change the plans to avoid removing certain features of their property, such as driveway access points. Others asked for an adjustment to the location of the U-turn bulbs to make it easier for them to access their property, or raised concerns about traffic.
In a number of the cases, comment responses noted designers were able to talk with the property owner, take the comments into account and make changes to the proposed design to better accommodate property owners’ needs.
The N.C. 211 widening project will cost an estimated $188,694,328, according to the state’s project website. That includes $10 million for project development and design, underway now; $51.8 million for right-of-way acquisition; $11.2 million for utility relocation and $115.6 million for construction costs.
Officials first proposed widening N.C. 211 from Raeford to Aberdeen at least 30 years ago. The state conducted a feasibility study in 1990, and updated the study in 2002. Once the project was added to the STIP, the state agency began the scoping process with public meetings in Aberdeen and Raeford in July 2016.
The project website with the full document of comments, and more information on the project itself is online at https://publicinput.com/nc-211-aberdeentoraeford.