State suspends Highway 108 project

Published 11:20 pm Sunday, September 8, 2019

Work may not begin until 2024

COLUMBUS—The state’s project to do improvements to Highway 108 between the Polk County Library and Walker Street in Columbus has been suspended. 

The Rural Planning Organization Transportation Advisory Committee met on Wednesday and were told the project will be delayed until 2024. 

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The RPO transportation advisory committee includes elected officials from the region, the Isothermal Planning and Development Commission and the North Carolina Department of Transportation. 

The committee received a letter from the NCDOT’s COO Robert W. Lewis that said effective immediately, the state will temporarily suspend preliminary engineering on the majority of projects that do not receive funding from GARVEE bonds, BUILD NC bonds or federal grants. One of those projects is I-4729B, which has already begun engineering and right of way acquisitions. 

“NCDOT is forced to take these steps due to the impact of recovery efforts from Hurricanes Florence and Michael, rockslides, snowstorms and isolated flash floods, as well as settlement expenses related to Map Act cases,” Lewis said. 

Other projects suspended in Polk County include I-5926, which is along Interstate 26 from Polk to the Henderson County line at mile-marker 65 and along Interstate 26 from Polk County to the South Carolina state line, according to the project suspension list. 

Columbus Councilman Robert Williamson is a member of the transportation advisory committee and said on Thursday that apparently, recent North Carolina Supreme Court decisions about NCDOT reserved corridors on private land is unconstitutional. 

“What I learned in the rural planning organization transportation advisory committee meeting yesterday is that our project I-4729B start date will likely be delayed until 2024,” Williamson said. “The engineering work is near completion as are the rights-of-way.” 

Project I-4729B is proposed to widen Highway 108 from the library to Walker Street in downtown Columbus and includes a new bridge to make the roundabouts to two lanes. 

The state announced the project last spring.  As of last year, sidewalks will also be included on the new bridge.  

The project will widen Highway 108 to three lanes, including two lanes and a turn lane. 

The project as of last year was estimated to cost $8.7 million, including $1 million in rights of way and $7.7 million in construction. 

Construction was expected to begin in January 2021 with the construction to take approximately two years.