ATLANTIC BEACH IS not the easiest place to get to. Over the years the lack of a direct interstate connection to Carteret County has helped protect our area from over development. Now, however, our towns have solid zoning codes in place to guard against development that is not well suited. So, it would be nice to have a few less stoplights between the beach and the towns where most of our property owners live. Thankfully, there are a few projects in the works that will help shave some time off of your trips to the beach.
One of these improvements, a Highway 70 bypass around Goldsboro, is nearly complete. The western and central sections of the project are complete, but the real benefit of this bypass will be realized when the larger eastern leg is completed this summer. According to the NC Dept. of Transportation (NCDOT), it should be open by June. The Goldsboro bypass will start just west of HWY 581 in Wayne County on the western side of Goldsboro and end east of Promise Land Road in Lenoir County. It should allow travelers to avoid a few stop lights as well as slower speed limits and traffic.
Next in line will be a four lane, divided bypass around Havelock. No construction has started on the Havelock bypass, but NCDOT has designed the route and begun acquiring the right of way needed for construction. Funding for the project is included in the state’s transportation improvement plan, which is critical, and construction is expected to start in 2018. The estimated completion date for the Havelock bypass is 2021. This bypass will be located on the southwest side of Havelock. It will start on the northern side of the Havelock City limits and extend south for approximately 10 miles toward the Craven-Carteret county line.
The last big piece of the puzzle in the Hwy 70 corridor is a bypass around Kinston. The NCDOT and the City of Kinston have explored multiple options, but there is not a final plan and planning is currently on hold. A Kinston bypass is not currently funded in the state’s plan. It is difficult to predict if and when construction would start. The state is committed to improving the Hwy 70 corridor in order to increase connectivity to the port in Morehead City and our beaches, as well as to our military bases. Nonetheless, the Goldsboro and Havelock projects will provide excellent benefits in the near term.
If you are interested in learning more about these projects, the NCDOT website has a lot of useful information including timelines and project maps.
My family’s “beach house” is in downtown Raleigh and I have done my share of trips between the Triangle and the beach. If I don’t stop for some BBQ at King’s or Wilbur’s (which I will continue to do even if with bypasses – good ‘cue is worth a few extra minutes) the trip from Atlantic Beach to Raleigh is a solid two and a half hours. I expect the improvements we will see in the next five years will shave around 20 minutes from this trip. That is a pretty significant reduction in time between many of you and that “Ahhhhh” moment when your crest the top of the Atlantic Beach bridge and see the ocean laying out behind our beach town.