GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – State transportation officials will submit an application this week, seeking federal approval to designate US 264 as a future interstate from the triangle to Greenville.
It could clear the way for huge growth in future economic development.
Area leaders hope the interstate changes the perception of the east.
“For the east to succeed and thrive, we need infrastructure; technology, roads, connectivity,” said Mayor Allen Thomas, City of Greenville.
One piece of that puzzle appears to be coming together quickly. The longtime dream of an interstate connecting to Greenville is one step closer to becoming reality.
“And it can be measured, literally. It’s monumental,” said Thomas. “It can be measured in billions of dollars. We’re going to be comparable to other communities in recruiting business here.”
And one of the people working to recruit those businesses is Wanda Yuhas, executive director of the Pitt County Development Commission, who said the lack of an interstate can sometimes make her job difficult. “We get a request for information, and a company we are trying to recruit will be looking for a reason to eliminate communities, not to keep us on. So if the request for information says ‘must be within 10 miles of an interstate,’ well we’re not within 10 miles of an interstate. But if I am the person who is trying to shorten this list, I go no interstate. Gone.”
It could still be years before the stretch of road between Greenville and the triangle is an official interstate. But even being designated a future interstate helps to make the area more attractive.
“It means that little shield shows up on a map,” said Yuhas. “And when the RFI says must be within 10 miles of an interstate, well we are.”
“We can immediately start marketing to companies who otherwise might not have even considered, we wouldn’t have even been on the radar for these opportunities,” said Thomas. “And now there’s very few things holding us back to go and recruit on the highest level.”
Bringing new business to the east is important. But Wanda said the future interstate will help keep companies already located here happy as well, “In the past three years I believe it is, that there has been early 3 billion dollars investment in pharmaceuticals. If we can make it easier for those companies to move product, to move people, it’s one more example of our truly becoming a metro area.”
A final decision on the future interstate designation is expected by the end of the year.
If that happens, NCDOT then has 25 years to make the necessary upgrades to get the highway to interstate standards.