06I 95I-95 widening funded by federal government

U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have announced that Interstate 95 will be widened to eight lanes north and south of Fayetteville. A $147 million federal infrastructure grant has been earmarked for the project.

The announcement said the project will provide for widening from exit 56 in Eastover to exit 71 in Dunn and between Fayetteville and Lumberton.

The state Department Of Transportation also plans to widen the interstate from Dunn to Benson, where it intersects with Interstate 40. Little more has been said about the project, but Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released a statement that described the importance of the widening to military transportation and commerce.

The state DOT indicated earlier that I-95 widening projects wouldn’t begin until 2026, but the $147 million federal grant could accelerate the project.

Cliffdale Road widening opposed

Fayetteville city officials hope to convince the NC DOT not to go through with a plan to widen a residential section of Cliffdale Road. Council adopted a resolution expressing opposition to a proposed $16 million project to widen the neighborhood stretch of roadway from two to four lanes with a center median.

The roadway in question is the original onemile stretch of Cliffdale between Morganton and McPherson Church Roads. It is considered a state street over which DOT has jurisdiction. Residents
of the area are opposed to the project. They fear a widened road would result in heavier traffic and a reduction of property values.

County Government adopts new budget

The Cumberland County Board of Commissioners has adopted its Fiscal Year 2019 operating budget. The ad valorem property tax rate remains at 79.9 cents per $100 of valuation. The budget, which must be balanced by state law, includes $478 million in total expenditures, with a general fund total of $316 million. That represents savings of about $7 million less than the FY2018 adopted budget. The decrease was attributed to the implementation of child care subsidies being paid directly from the state and no longer through county budgets.

“We thought we had a pretty solid budget, and in the spirit of cooperation, we were able to come together and approve it unanimously,” said Chairman Larry Lancaster.

County employees will receive a three percent pay increase. Funding for Cumberland County Schools totals $79,463,109. An additional $398,937 is budgeted for seven school nurses. In addition to the new nurses, the budget includes 11 new full-time and two part-time positions in the general fund and abolishes one full-time Animal Control administrative support specialist position. The new positions include two full-time and two part-time animal shelter attendants, plus a full-time veterinarian. Two telecommunicator positions will be added to Emergency Services for Animal Control dispatch.

Festival Park Plaza leased

A leading Fayetteville realtor is moving its offices to downtown Fayetteville to “better position itself in the marketplace,” said Denise Strother, CEO of ERA Strother Real Estate. She said as many as 100 employees will occupy the second floor of the Festival Park Plaza building at 225 Ray Ave.

Developer Jordan Jones bought the building recently from the city of Fayetteville, which has signed a long-term lease for use of the first floor. The third floor is also leased.

Strother says the 15,000 square feet on the second floor will house Strother Real Estate, SPM Property Management and Lendello Mortgage Co. as well as corporate offices. Jones has agreed to add 132 spaces to an extended parking lot at the rear of the building, according to Strother. She says the company plans to move into the building the first of the year once some upfitting is completed.

Fayetteville businessman John Malzone said, “This is a great addition to our downtown workforce. Having a large, successful company relocate to our central city shows where the future of Fayetteville is. The future is downtown.”

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