Work on U.S. 70 could continue into May

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

It could be at least May until the widening of U.S. 70 (Statesville Boulevard) from Salisbury Mall to east of Barringer Road is finished, according to the latest state estimates.

The N.C. Department of Transportation considers that particular section 97 percent complete, but the remaining 3 percent will include a major finishing touch — construction of both grass and concrete medians.

“The contractor’s a little behind,” said DOT Project Engineer Tim Canup. The original completion date for this U.S. 70 segment in and near Salisbury was last year.

Canup said the contractor, APAC, has been behind schedule through the life of the project.

APAC faced what Canup described as “utility setbacks,” delays in connection to the relocation or installation of new utility lines.

It also lost a couple of prime construction months early in the project (the summer of 2004) when its grading subcontractor, F.T. Williams of Charlotte, filed for bankruptcy and brought work to an abrupt halt.

Canup said traffic through the construction area will undergo one more significant shift in about a month.

At that time, eastbound and westbound traffic will be moved to outside lanes, while the contractor works in the middle, building a median and concrete islands at intersections.

When the work is completed, Statesville Boulevard will have been widened from two to four lanes with a median.

Traffic signals also will be installed at Lash Drive, Majolica-Ashbrook roads, Enon Church-Epperson roads and Hurley School Road.

The U.S. 70 widening is taking place in five different project segments between Statesville and Salisbury.

APAC is the contractor for the project segments now under construction in Rowan County — C, D and E — which have price tags of $13.6 million, $16.8 million and $11.8 million, respectively.

The “C” segment extends from Amity Hill Road in Cleveland near the Freightliner plant to N.C. 801 near Invista.

The “D” segment goes from N.C. 801 to east of Barringer Road.

The “E” segment extends from east of Barringer Road to the Salisbury Mall area.

Canup said the C segment is about 68 percent complete; the D section, 66 percent.

The C and D sections also are behind schedule — about 13 percent on the C section and 25 percent on the D segment.

Canup said APAC doesn’t yet face any monetary penalties for being late on the E section because DOT added work to the project. When work is added, the contractor also is given more days to complete the project.

DOT refers to the fines as “liquidated damages.” Canup said he doesn’t expect APAC to face those damages unless the project extends into the summer.

During the construction, the U.S. 70 segment closest to Salisbury has had a wide-load restriction. The speed limit also has been posted at 45 mph.

U.S. 70 continues to see a lot of heavy trucks and “lots of crazy drivers,” Canup said.

“We just ask them (motorists) to stay alert,” he said.

The E segment of the widening project includes sidewalk, requested by the city of Salisbury, on one side of the highway from Salisbury to Hurley School Road.

Sidewalk on the other side ends at Ashbrook Road, the entrance to Westcliffe.

The E section also includes curb and gutter to Kepley Road, while C and D sections will have new shoulders and/ or drainage ditches.

The “B” section of U.S. 70’s widening extends from Amity Hill Road to the Rowan County line. Work has yet to start on that section and probably won’t get under way until spring 2008.

Construction continues on the U.S. 70 section (Project “A”) from Statesville to the Rowan line.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka