GOLDSBORO — Travelers can expect to experience delays on North William Street during non-commuter hours for the next 24-36 months.
Construction to widen and improve safety on a 1.5-mile stretch of the busy multi-lane street (U.S. Highway 117) began last week with installation of orange-and-white drums and other barriers.
The NC Department of Transportation (DOT) awarded a $15.3 million contract to JSmith Civil LLC of Goldsboro.
“It is going to be inconvenient traveling through there for a while,” said Andrew Barksdale, public relations officer for Divisions 4 and 6 in the DOT.
“Once the inconvenience is over, you’re going to have a much better, safer [and] easier road to get through.”
Barksdale said the contractor could not close or narrow lanes during morning hours (6-9 a.m.) and afternoon (4-7 p.m.) weekday commutes. Drivers should expect delays at other times.
Traffic will shift onto two new lanes with curb gutters and asphalt — one in each direction on the highway. The contractor will build out the other two lanes with new asphalt, redo pavement for the existing highway and add a median.
A safety measure, the median replaces the middle turn lane.
“[Medians] have a proven track record for reducing overall crashes and crashes that either maim or kill people, like a T-bone crash, for instance,” Barksdale said.
“You may still have fender benders.”
The median will also redirect drivers on some of the side streets to turn right. If a driver wishes to go in the opposite direction, they must use a dedicated lane a short distance away to safely make a U-turn.
As part of the contract, traffic signals will be installed on North William Street at Neil Street, 11th Street, Patetown Road and Industry Court.
Barksdale said drivers should watch their speed and pay attention to their surroundings in construction areas.
“In the middle of the day when you drive through there, you might be stopped in traffic,” Barksdale said. “There may be just one lane open for one or two blocks. You’ll run into that in small little sections. We ask that you be careful and aware of workers in the road.
“If we could shut down the road and have no one use it, we could do it 50% faster. We have to maintain traffic which is necessary for commerce, but also slows down the work.”
Work on the highway could not begin until all of the utility lines had been relocated.
The project is scheduled for completion by the end of March 2023.