Governor Perdue has announced 70 highway and road projects in the state are set to receive money from the economic stimulus bill, however only two projects in our area made the list. Shallotte residents are the big winners; an intersection there is set to be improved. The other project is to improve a 20 mile stretch of Interstate 40 in Sampson and Duplin counties. More than $400 million from the federal government will help create 14,000 new jobs in North Carolina. The 70 highway and bridge projects set to get federal economic stimulus money are spread out across the state, but are more concentrated in the Triangle region, the northern part of the state, and Iredell and Gaston counties. Locally, our first piece of the economic stimulus pie is for the two projects totaling $30 million. "I would say somewhere between 80 or 90 percent of the people come to this region by I-40 or utilize I-40 to go and come from this region. Our preservation of that stretch of road is very vital to our division,” said Allen Pope, a DOT engineer. The two projects have been delayed for some time due to tight state budgets. In order for these projects to garner federal money, they had to be shovel ready, and able to be completed within three years. The Department of Transportation faces big challenges, reaching every improvement need in our area. The DOT will begin accepting bids for these projects in March. The State Transportation Board will then have to approve them before economic stimulus money will start flowing to our area. A second wave of stimulus money will go toward extending the I-140 bypass.
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