Governor Pat McCrory and a host of local, state and federal officials cut the ribbon on a six-and-a-half-mile section of Fayetteville’s Outer Loop last week. The $146 million project extends the future I-295 from Ramsey Street to Bragg Boulevard, providing Fort Bragg with direct access to I-95, something the Army has wanted for decades.
“This is a game changer,” said City Councilwoman Kathy Jensen.
The project has been on the drawing board since the 1980s, but was given unprecedented acceleration in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks. The first phase from I-95 to Ramsey Street opened in 2005. The section still under construction will extend from Bragg Boulevard to the All American Freeway, and completion is expected by the end of the year. Then the next section of the Outer Loop will span three miles from the All American Freeway to Cliffdale Road. The N.C. Department of Transportation awarded an $85.2 million contract for this project in June. It will be completed by 2021.
“This is one of the many sections of the Fayetteville Outer Loop we are completing to meet growing transportation, military and logistics demands,” said N.C. Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson of the section just opened.
Construction of Interstate 295 from US 401 to the All-American Freeway was actually scheduled to begin in late 2008, and be completed by 2012, according to the NC DOT. But this project was put on hold in November 2008 because of the recession and the severe shortage of money for highway construction in North Carolina. The delays continued through 2011. Instead of this segment being undertaken as one contract, DOT split the work into three smaller contracts. It began in 2009 on the section from Bragg Boulevard to Murchison Road, using federal stimulus money. The section was completed in 2014. Meanwhile, in March 2011 a contract to construct the portion of the loop between US 401 and Murchison Road was awarded but did not include final paving. Three years later the contract for paving was issued. This is the six-mile segment that opened this month.
Gov. McCrory last year encouraged the legislature to accelerate construction of the Outer Loop even faster. It and other local road projects were included in the 2015 state budget. The North Carolina Board of Transportation approved them in January 2016.
“The reforms I signed into law will get these roads built sooner,” said McCrory.
The section extending the loop from Camden Road to Interstate 95 South of Fayetteville will see construction accelerated from 2021 to 2020. The remainder of the 39-mile future I-295 is funded through the state’s new transportation funding formula, which Gov. McCrory championed to take the politics out of transportation planning. Under the formula, more than $400 million is targeted to complete the entire loop by 2025.