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Congress Passes Bill That Would Create Two New Interstates To The North Carolina Coast

A map of North Carolina's Interstate highways.
North Carolina currently has no Interstate highways from the Triangle to coastal ports.

Congress has has approved a five-year highway bill that would designate two planned routes from the Triangle to coastal ports as future interstate highways. They include a corridor from Raleigh to Norfolk, Virginia, and from Garner to Morehead City, then continuing to the Wilmington area.

Nicole Meister is a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation. She says a lot of work has already been done to build sections of these roadways to Interstate level, meaning wider lanes and shoulders, and controlled interchanges. But that doesn't make them full-fledged "Interstates."

"Getting the interstate designation is important from an economic development standpoint," says Meister, who explains that the designation has been an important goal for Gov. Pat McCrory's administration.

"Businesses look for good connections to your transportation infrastructure from the Interstate to the port."

Meister says the designation would not include funding for road construction, but it might increase the projects' priority level.

The measure heads to President Obama's desk.

Rebecca Martinez produces podcasts at WUNC. She’s been at the station since 2013, when she produced Morning Edition and reported for newscasts and radio features. Rebecca also serves on WUNC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accountability (IDEA) Committee.
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