Construction on Greenville southwest bypass set to begin next week

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – Three years from now, the way drivers get around Greenville will look much different.

Late June 2019 is the expected completion date of the southwest bypass.

It’s a project talked about for years. Now, it’s becoming a reality.

Construction begins next week.

WNCT’s Ken Watling is taking a closer look at the $159 million project and how it will affect you.

It’s been a long road to get to this point. After years of fighting for funding, construction on the southwest bypass is set to begin after a year of planning.

“June of last year we awarded the contract to the design-build team, which is Barnhill Contractors, Sanford Contractors,” said Cadmus Capehart, NCDOT resident engineer. “HDR is the design firm. And in that time period, they have been working on developing plans and working on getting the project permits. [They’ve] been able to get everything in line to get going.”

So what exactly is the southwest bypass? It’s a 12.4-mile freeway that will run from the current NC 11 south of Ayden to the intersection of US 264 and Stantonsburg Road near Vidant Medical Center.

Five exits, no stoplights, and a 70 mile per hour speed limit. That means it’ll take much less time to get where you’re going.

“It will,” said Capehart. “It will be a nice feature for people coming from the Ayden area, Kinston area and other places south and east from there to get onto the west side of Greenville. And be able to get to this side, get to the hospital area and points further west.”

The bypass won’t run through Greenville city limits at any point. But City of Greenville officials say the new freeway will help alleviate traffic in the city, even if you don’t drive on the bypass.

“We expect that will take quite a bit of traffic off Memorial and probably some of the feeder roads into Memorial such as Greenville Blvd,” said Kevin Mulligan, Dir. of Public Works, City of Greenville. “They’ll be connections to Dickinson and various other roads moving south. So that’s going to certainly help that southwest area. Help some of the traffic and congestion and remove some of the truck traffic. Quite a bit of the truck traffic on Memorial Blvd.”

But there’s plenty to do for workers between now and that anticipated completion date in June 2019.

Capehart said construction crews will face plenty of challenges, “The biggest challenge will be the amount of earthwork that we have, bringing dirt into the project for this 12 and a half miles. And we have about 20 bridges on this project. So just the amount of dirt that has to be brought in. And building this project within three years.”

But once it’s done, the southwest bypass will be one of the most important transportation projects in eastern North Carolina history. That’s good news for an area that continues to grow.

“It’s very exciting,” said Capehart, “It’s good to have projects coming and to see progress going on in the Greenville area and the surrounding areas. You know having this, projects that are pretty big and should be great when they’re done.”

Much of the construction will take place on what used to be farmland, so delays and detours on existing roads will be minimal.

The entire 12.4-mile freeway will be signed as NC Highway 11. The current Highway 11 from Ayden, north through Winterville and Greenville, basically Memorial Drive, will become NC 11 Business.

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