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Local officials support US 64 upgrades

The Rural Transportation Advisory Council for the 10-county Albemarle Region recently called for widening the existing pavement on US 64 between Columbia and Alligator River bridge to provide five-foot paved shoulders and four-to-six-foot earthen shoulders.

Barricades crowd the pavement for several miles east of Columbia to prevent vehicles from plunging into roadside canals as much as 20 feet deep. In barricaded areas all the improvements would have to be made on the opposite side of the roadway.

The regional call for upgrading US 64 is part of statewide transportation planning mandated by the Strategic Transportation Investments Act of 2013, which prioritizes and funds transportation projects in an effort to ensure they provide maximum benefit for the state.

The 2013 law was developed because the state gas tax, highway use tax and DMV fees provide too little funding to build all of the transportation improvements needed to attract new industry, reduce congestion and connect citizens to new opportunities in the state.

The new formula is data driven and requires local input from both NCDOT Division 1 (14 northeastern counties) as well as the Albemarle Rural Planning Organization.

All transportation projects are broken down into three categories: statewide, regional and division level.

Statewide projects receive 40% of the available revenue. The project selection process is 100% data driven or based on facts such as benefit/cost, congestion, economic competitiveness and safety. The ARPO and NCDOT Division 1 do not have any say in rankings of statewide projects.

Regional projects receive 30% of the available revenue, based on regional population.  ARPO projects at the regional level compete with projects in NCDOT Divisions 1 and 4. The process is 70% data driven and ARPO and NCDOT Division 1 rankings will make up the remaining 30%.

Division projects receive 30% of the available revenue, which is shared equally between the 14 NCDOT divisions. The selection process is 50% data driven and the ARPO and NCDOT Divison 1 ranking will account for the other 50%.

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