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DOT studies adding interchange on I-95
The North Carolina Board of Transportation recently awarded a $2.2 million contract to widen 1.4 miles of Sunset Avenue. And, in a few years, Sunset Avenue could be seeing an even bigger makeover as the Department of Transportation is considering an interchange in the area.

An information citizens informational workshop will be held on Tuesday, February 12 on the proposed project. The project proposes an interchange at Sunset Avenue and I-95 in Rocky Mount.

Jameelah El-Amin, a Project Planning Engineer with the Department of Transportation, said the project is in the early stages and still has several more steps to follow after the informational workshop.

“It’s definitely still early in the planning stages,” El-Amine said. “(And) we definitely take into consideration all the comments received from the workshop.”

Aerial maps will be displayed at the informational workshop that will display the study area. Handouts and comment sheets will also be distributed at the meeting. Representatives will also be on hand to discuss the project. The workshop will be held from 4 until 7 p.m. on February 12 in the Cardinal Room of the Hampton Inn at 530 North Winstead Avenue in Rocky Mount.

Tom Betts, who represents Nash County on the Board of Transportation, said the interchange will provide needed relief for the growth in that area.

“This area is becoming more and more congested,” Betts said. “Rocky Mount and Nashville are growing toward each other.”

“This project is not only necessary,” Betts said. “It’s long overdue.”

Betts said that currently, Sunset Avenue will be widened from east of Old Carriage Road to west of Halifax Road to three lanes with curb and gutter. The Board of Transportation awarded the $2.2 million project to PLT Construction Company Inc. of Wilson. The project was awarded through N.C. Moving Ahead!, a transportation and economic development initiative aimed at making maintenance and modernization improvements across the state.

Betts said though the road will be widened into three lanes, if an interchange is to come to the area, it will more than likely be widened even more.

“Right now the traffic (study) will not support a four lane road but by the time we do an interchange, which will be several years out, it will support it,” Betts said. “Right now three lanes will give us a lot of relief for the congestion.”

Betts encouraged the public to attend the informational session to receive information and provide comments and suggestions for the project. He added the project is in the early stages and could still not come to fruition.

“Every time we have a highway project like that we have a public workshop,” Betts said. “We want (citizen’s) input, positive and negative. We don’t want to do something citizens don’t want.”

If the project is to move forward following the workshop, Betts said it would still have to meet approval from the Federal Highway Administration and then go through the standard Department of Transportation Approval Process.

“This is in the conceptual stage and there’s no guarantee this is going to happen,” Betts said.

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