KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – City leaders from all across the east are working together to make sure they’re prepared for anticipated growth.
Part of that is a plan to connect four of the larger metropolitan areas east of Interstate 95.
If their idea comes to fruition, your drive around eastern North Carolina could one day be just like the one around Raleigh, even Washington, D.C.
“It would be such a tremendous economic engine for our communities that I think in a decade or two we wouldn’t know where to put all the people,” said Kinston mayor BJ Murphy. He’s excited about the future.
Murphy along with other city and county leaders across eastern North Carolina are working on a plan called Quad-East.
Greenville mayor Allen Thomas spearheaded the concept two years ago.
“All working together, have formed an initiative called Quad-East,” said Greenville mayor Allen Thomas. “And what that means is how do we connect military, academic, medical and major manufacturing in this region together?’
The goal of Quad-East is to form an interstate quality loop from Greenville, Wilson, Goldsboro, Kinston and back to Greenville.
“Not only moves goods and services but helps increase the economic activity in these areas based on the uniqueness of each of the communities we’re talking about,” explained Murphy. “Goldsboro’s got a base. Greenville’s got Vidant and East Carolina. But Kinston’s got the Global Transpark. And tying all these pieces together.”
Part of that’s already done; I-795 connects Wilson and Goldsboro. US 70 between Goldsboro and Kinston is in the process of being upgraded to I-42.
Another part of the proposed loop is the Felix Harvey Parkway north of Kinston. Last month, DOT officials announced the parkway will extend from NC 58 to NC 11.
“The northern option for the Harvey Parkway extension from the Global Transpark to Highway 11,” said Murphy. “Just a few upgrades to Highway 11, maybe a few upgrades to Highway 70 and, folks, we’ve got us a controlled access freeway system here in eastern North Carolina.”
And in Pitt County, the NC 11 southwestern bypass construction just got underway, which is another key piece of the Quad-East puzzle.
Bringing it all together means working with other cities and counties and having a common goal. For these two mayors, that’s a win-win situation.
“We have to fit together as a region if we’re going to be able to recruit industry and to be able to bring opportunity here,” said Thomas. “It’s the eastern part of North Carolina. It’s not just one city. We’re all in this thing together.”
“It’s really important for rural eastern North Carolina to all be on the same page when it comes to transportation and economic development. And Quad-East is the epitome of what that cooperation could look like,” said Murphy.
The last leg of the Quad-East loop is NC 11 between the Harvey Parkway in Lenoir County and the southwestern bypass in Pitt County. As of now, there are no immediate plans to upgrade that stretch of road to interstate standards.