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Local and state officials plan to spend nearly $4 million on road work — including improvements to Forest Hills Road, Glendale Drive and Lodge Street in downtown Wilson — in the next year.
“From fiscal year 2017 through 2019, we’d done about 20 miles,” said Wilson Public Works Director Bill Bass. “We had been doing 7 miles a year, but we just recently did some more bids in June, and the price per mile has significantly increased. We’ve gone from between $190,000 or $195,000 to $247,000 a mile.”
Wilson and most other North Carolina cities implemented an additional $20 fee on residents’ vehicle registration to support road maintenance. In the first year, Wilson collected $485,000 and was able to increase the annual work from about 1.5 miles of streets to 3.5 miles. The revenue has averaged around $550,000 a year since, which is paired with about $300,000 from the city’s Powell Bill funds.
“In the next fiscal year, I expect we’ll do roughly five or 5.5 miles based on current funding and the current costs,” Bass said. “It will be a stretch.”
In contrast, the N.C. Department of Transportation plans on spending $3.2 million on preservation and resurfacing work on more than 32 miles throughout Wilson County. And that does not include the repaving of roughly a mile on Tarboro and Pine streets as part of the conversion from one-way traffic to two-way.
“We have to do more than just repave it and restripe it to convert from one-way to two-way roads,” said Andrew Barksdale, public relations officer for the NCDOT. “We also have to remove six traffic signals, redo three signals and install six all-way stop signs at intersections. We also have to add some concrete traffic islands.
“It’s a pretty intense project.”
State officials are working to get cost estimates and advertise for bids. Once the conversion is complete, Wilson will add the stretch of road to the more than 230 miles of streets already maintained by the city. By contrast, the state maintains 269 miles in the city of Wilson and 839 miles throughout Wilson County.
When it comes to determining which roads to focus funds on, Wilson hires an independent engineering firm to ride and rate every street. The information yielded during the 2018 study shows that 41.6 miles of the 232 miles rank less than 60, but Bass said pavement with a score of 60 is considered to have zero remaining life.
“If the rating is on the Y axis of a graph and time is on the X axis, you can extend the life of the road, but if you don’t have the funds to do any maintenance treatments, you can’t extend that time,” Bas said. “It also isn’t linear. It is exponential, and when the condition starts to deteriorate, it does so quickly. So if you have a road that is a 60 this year, three years from now, it could be at a 30 or less.”
Getting caught up on road maintenance is an expensive, long-range goal, which is compounded by increasing construction costs.
“If we didn’t have the funds from the registration fees, we would be able to do about a mile, so the funding is extremely important. However, with the increased costs, we’re still not able to keep up,” Bass said. “We can’t keep up with the deterioration of some streets and we’ve started a maintenance plan to improve the condition of some streets, but it will just help, not fix it. The street conditions are just worse than our dollars can keep up with and in talking with other municipalities, everyone is in the same boat. Funding for maintenance is a nationwide issue and it isn’t just limited to municipalities.”
Road work planned in the next year
• Lodge Street from Hines Street, through railroad crossing to Barnes Street in Wilson.
• Emory Street from Libby Street to Park Drive in Wilson.
• Lancaster Drive from Nottingham Road to Buckingham Drive in Wilson.
• Wescott Drive from Wescott Lane to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Wescott Lane from Wescott Drive to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Providence Lane from Wescott Lane to the dead end in Wilson.
• Hatcher Lane from Lake Wilson Road to Dewfield Drive in Wilson.
• Bobwhite Trail from Hatcher Lane to Dewfield Drive in Wilson.
• Merrils Park Drive from Nash Street to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Brookhaven Drive from Dixon Court to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Westbrook Drive from Cardinal Drive to Ellington Drive in Wilson.
• Falling Maple Drive from the cul-de-sac to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Ashland Drive from Dartmore Drive to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Grove Street from Turner Street to Rodgers Avenue in Wilson.
• Fieldcrest Road from Worth Drive to Longview Road in Wilson.
• Carolina Street from Ward Boulevard to East Street in Wilson.
• New Bern Avenue from Ward Boulevard to Tuskegee Street in Wilson.
• Gold Street from Pender Street to Reid Street in Wilson.
• Lillian Road from Ward Boulevard to Robert Road in Wilson.
• Glendale Drive from Downing Street, through Horton Boulevard, to Tarboro Street in Wilson.
• Womble Street from Glendale Drive to Shreve Street in Wilson.
• Glendale Drive from Downing Street to the cul-de-sac in Wilson.
• Harrison Drive from Ward Boulevard to Tilghman Road in Wilson.
• U.S. 264 Alternate from U.S. 301 to Charleston Street in Wilson.
• Quaker Road from N.C. 42 to Wiggins Mill Road in Wilson.
• Forest Hills Road from N.C. 42 to Raleigh Road Parkway in Wilson.
• Van Slyke Road from London Church Road to Upchurch Road in Wilson.
• Upchurch Road from London Church Road to Elm City Road south of Elm City.
• Elm City Road and Parker Street from Branch Street to West Nash Street in Elm City.
• Piney Grove Church Road from N.C. 111 to U.S. 264 Alternate in Saratoga.
• Glory Road from Alton Road to the dead end in Black Creek.
• Oak Street from U.S. 301 to Little Rock Church Road west of Lucama.
• Artis Road from St. Mary’s Church Road to Rainwater Road west of Lucama.
• N.C. 111 from N.C. 58, through N.C. 222 to the Edgecombe County line.
• Woodbridge Road from Old Stantonsburg Road to N.C. 111 in Stantonsburg.
• Commercial Avenue from N.C. 111 to N.C. 58 in Stantonsburg.