NCDOT budget concerns impact Onslow County roadway projects

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The North Carolina Department of Transportations’ financial struggles is impacting Onslow County roadway projects.

In August, the department announced it planned to lay off workers and suspend 900 road projects.

The cost-saving measure comes as two massive expenses weigh on the department’s budget — about $300 million in weather-related costs, and what’s projected to be $1 billion in legal fees for settling lawsuits.

“We have seen some trying times right now,” said NCDOT Chief Operation Officer Robert Lewis.

The department is trying to monitor their expenditures to stay above what they call a statutory floor in other words staying above a state mandated figure of $300 million.

“We’re not running out of money, but when we got the statutory floor we’re not allowed to enter into new contracts and execute new work until we get above the floor,” said Lewis.

Earlier this week, Transportation Director for the City of Jacksonville Anthony Prinz reported to county commissioners 24 roadway projects were on hold due to NCDOT’s budget.

But five projects will continue as scheduled. That includes the Henderson Hawk project, the Gum Branch widening, Midway Park Safety Enhancements, the projects on Marine/Bellfork and Western/Gateway North.

“If it was already essentially in the construction pipeline [NCDOT is] going to allow them to go,” said Prinz.

To tackle this problem, Prinz said local officials will have to find other creative solutions to address safety and congestion issues.

The fate of the 24 roadway projects is dependent on NCDOT’s financial status.

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