Interstate 95 widening project hopes to avoid flooding

LUMBERTON, NC (AP) — The N.C. Department of Transportation has signed a $432 million contract this month to rebuild eight miles of Interstate 95 through one county with an eye on eliminating a recurring flooding problem.

Flooding resulting from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Florence in 2018 closed the highway in Robeson County for several days, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported.

Starting next year, contractors will begin work on widening I-95 from four lanes to eight and replace bridges at three interchanges.

Contractors will use fill dirt to raise the highway above its current elevation through Lumberton, said Matt Lauffer, NCDOT’s hydraulics design engineer. Lauffer said the work aims to raise all bridges and culverts high enough to handle a 100-year flood, plus provide an 18-inch (45 cm) cushion so item floating underneath can pass.

The project also calls for a new, higher bridge to carry I-95 over the Lumber River, where flood waters left the interstate impassable for several days after both hurricanes.

Construction on the Lumberton section of I-95 is scheduled to begin next summer and be completed by late summer 2026. NCDOT expects to award two more contracts to widen another 15 miles of I-95 between Lumberton and Fayetteville, starting next fall.

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