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State moves up schedule on final leg of Fayetteville Outer Loop

Following a three-year delay, construction on the portion of the highway from Camden Road to Raeford Road is set to get underway this summer.


The N.C. Board of Transportation on Thursday voted to move up the date for awarding a contract for the final western segment of the Fayetteville Outer Loop.

The state had planned to award the contract in October 2022 for the roughly $123.6 million project, which includes right of way and construction combined.

Now the contract is scheduled to be awarded in June.

The Fayetteville Outer Loop is also known as Interstate 295.

Construction on this last segment of the loop – which runs about 4.8 miles from south of Camden Road to south of Raeford Road – is now scheduled to start this summer, perhaps as early as July, state DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said. That stretch will include interchanges at Camden and Strickland Bridge roads.

The work will take an estimated four years to complete.

Another piece of the loop - extending south of Camden to Interstate 95 - has been under construction for about two years, he said. That 6-mile slice of interstate should be finished in 2024, leaving only the last link to be completed two years later.

That 6-mile section will not open for motorists until this final segment is completed, he said.

“We’re excited we are able to move this project back up after these delays because the completion of the Fayetteville Outer Loop will make a big difference in mobility and safety and economic growth in this region of the state," Barksdale said.

The state is scheduled to award a contract June 21. The department will solicit bids eight weeks prior to that date.

Initially, plans called for construction on this last segment to begin in 2019 with completion set for 2023.

“The unexpected costs of Hurricane Florence and the added right of way acquisition costs and time needed to reach property owner settlements under the Map Act court ruling delayed the awarding of this project by approximately three years,” Barksdale said in an email.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that the Map Act was unconstitutional because it amounted to a taking of property without just compensation, according to published reports. The Department of Transportation, the reports said, had used the law to prevent people from developing or significantly improving property where the state planned to build highways.

Because of the delay, the roadwork is now expected to be finished in the summer of 2026.

“The board members make periodic amendments and adjustments to the STIP at every board meeting, based on updated information about projects,” Barksdale said in reference to the 10-year State Transportation Improvement Plan. “In this case, this project is already designed and permitted, and we have acquired the necessary right of way.

“The board approved of this change to move up the letting date from October 2022 to June 2022 to strategically balance lettings across (DOT) Division 6 and to move up the letting date for this particular project in the STIP,” he said.

During Thursday’s board meeting, Barksdale said, many projects were added or moved up based on the passage of the new two-year state budget.

Barksdale said the contract to be awarded in June will call for land clearing, grubbing and grading before the start of building structures and bridges and installing culverts before the actual roadway subgrade and pavement.

Twenty-two miles of the Outer Loop already have opened to traffic.

Once completed, the entire 39-mile urban loop will connect Interstate 95 in northern Cumberland County and I-95 in Robeson County, just below the Cumberland County line. The loop provides an unprecedented interstate connection for the region and two direct connections from Fort Bragg to I-95.

The Department of Transportation website states: “The Fayetteville Outer Loop is critical for the region. It will help support the military, promote continued economic growth and strengthen North Carolina’s ability to attract and retain business and industry.”

The department lists other Fayetteville Outer Loop benefits as reducing traffic volume on portions of the area's street network; connecting major routes in the south, west and north portions of Fayetteville; and providing the additional crossing of the Cape Fear River.

Plans for the Outer Loop got underway in the late 1980s. The initial segment – running from Ramsey Street to River Road – opened in 2003. That was the portion that created a new route over the Cape Fear.

Two years later, the Outer Loop was extended eastward to I-95.

Over time, other links have been completed. In August 2016, a 6.5-mile portion from Bragg Boulevard to Ramsey Street opened, providing a direct eastward connection from Fort Bragg to I-95. That direct connection to the interstate is regarded as critical to military deployment and national security.

“We will be able to open traffic onto all of it sometime in 2026," Barksdale said, "probably by that summer.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Outer Loop, Interstate 295, road construction, N.C. Board of Transportation