I-74 is to be routed from the end of the Rockingham-Hamlet Bypass to the Laurinburg Bypass along the current US 74 highway corridor. This roadway is presently a four-lane divided expressway with intersections that include stoplights in the town of Laurel Hill. On September 28, 2006 NCDOT officials held a meeting for the Laurel Hill community at which was discussed two options for building I-74 through that town. One option would be simply to upgrade the current highway to an interstate by the closing of certain side streets and possibly replacing one of the stop-lighted intersections with an interchange. The other option was to build a bypass around the town which would start out slightly north of Laurel Hill then cross over existing US 74 to the south before returning to the existing highway, the remainder of which would be upgraded to interstate standards. About 100 residents attended the hearing. The consensus from the meeting was that the first option would be cheaper, and quicker to build (about 7 years) but limit access to businesses, the other would maintain business access but probably cost more and take longer to complete, probably about 10 years.1 The NCDOT Project to upgrade the roadway (No. I-3801) was listed as Unfunded from 1999 through the 2009-2015 STIP.2 When the new revised STIP process started in 2011, the project was no longer listed because of its unfunded categorization.3 The 2009 cost estimates were $18.4 million for Right-of-Way acquisition and $60.4 million for construction, undoubtedly to increase before the project is finally funded. Future I-74 corridor signs first appeared on this stretch of US 74 in 2000 (see photo below).
NEW FUNDING FOUND IN 2015, TAKEN AWAY
In November 2015, NC Governor Pat McCrory announced that new budget
guidelines, including the stopping of future transfers from the
transportation budget to the general fund, would create increased
funding for NCDOT highway projects. NCDOT released a list of new
projects that would be funded with the additional revenue, if approved
by the Board of Transportation in the 2016-2025 STIP, as well as
designating funds to specific projects like completing the I-74 Segment
of the Winston-Salem Beltway (see I-74 Segment 4).
According to this list, a new STIP project that would upgrade US 74 to
Interstate Standards from the Rockingham Bypass to the currently signed
section of I-74 in Robeson County, including the Laurinburg Bypass
would start in 2022.4 The Board approved the funding at
their January 2016 meeting and the revised STIP document now lists
Project I-5899, with the upgrade of US 74 from the Rockingham Bypass to
the Laurinburg Bypass, as the first part of the project. It will be a
design-build contract with an estimated cost of $86.9 million and a
completion date of 2025.5 However, when the new Draft NCDOT
2017-2027 STIP was released in January 2017, Project I-5899 was no
longer part of the document, in its place was simply an entry for a
Feasibility Study (No. FS-1508A) for the upgrading of US 74 in Richmond,
Scotland and Robeson Counties to Interstate Standards for the 23.4 miles
from the eastern end of the Rockingham Bypass to the start of I-74 in
Robeson County.6 While there was nothing in that document
that stated why funding for the I-74 project was taken away, an entry in
another publication that explained differences between the Final
2015-2026 STIP and the new one stated that the P 4.0, or prioritization
score was too low.7 The project therefore can not start now
until after 2027.
Two New Photos sent in by Napoleon Reese, February 2016
View of traffic heading east along current US 74 in Scotland County.
Traffic along current US 74 near city of Laurel Hill.
One of the I-74 Corridor Signs placed along US 74 between Hamlet and Laurinburg. Photo courtesy of Adam Prince
If anyone has any other photos to share from this segment feel free to send me an E-mail.