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Crews to widen road, build new I-95 interchange

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NASHVILLE — A popular Nash County route will be widened and a new Interstate 95 interchange will be constructed in Rocky Mount after the N.C. Department of Transportation recently awarded a $60.5 million contract.

Eastern Avenue/Sunset Avenue will be widened to four lanes with a median between Red Oak and Halifax roads. Most of the route currently varies between two and three lanes.

The Sunset Avenue bridge over I-95 will be converted into an interchange with on- and off-ramps.

Several roundabouts on Eastern Avenue/Sunset Avenue will be built. Roundabouts improve safety and traffic flow, according to the NCDOT.

The intersection of Eastern Avenue and North Old Carriage Road will be improved with added turn lanes. A portion of North Old Carriage Road near the intersection also will be widened to four lanes.

The projects were promoted by the Rocky Mount Metropolitan Planning Organization, Nash County and the town of Nashville to improve traffic safety, reduce congestion and plan for increases in traffic. The city of Rocky Mount has long sought to have Sunset Avenue turned into an interchange to boost mobility to the interstate.

In 2015, the NCDOT established a long-term plan to fund the projects.

“I’m really excited that we were able to accelerate these projects by two or three years,” said Gus Tulloss, a state Board of Transportation member from Rocky Mount. “The new interchange in particular will be important for promoting economic development in the region.”

A portion of the state’s Build N.C. bond sale proceeds in June will supplement money from the highway trust fund to finance the project.

This is a design-build contract, which is an alternative approach for construction. A design-build team combines the engineering, right-of-way and construction functions under one manager — a relationship that promotes design innovation and faster project delivery.

Barnhill Contracting Co. of Rocky Mount will finalize the design and coordinate with the department on acquiring needed right of way for the improvements. Construction will start in about a year.

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