The North Carolina Department of Transportation had hoped to open a new section of Fayetteville’s Outer Loop by Christmas. But DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale said it will likely be summer or fall of this year before the segment from the All American Freeway to Cliffdale Road opens to traffic.
“Fort Bragg wanted a way to get from a unit’s motor pool straight to the training area and not have to go out and around (Interstate) 295,” Barksdale said. “A bridge was too costly, so we are building a large enough tunnel — at a cost of $2 million — for the military vehicles to use to travel under I-295.”
Barksdale noted Fort Bragg formally requested the enhancement of the project, and DOT Secretary Jim Trogdon approved it. Trogdon is from Hope Mills and retired in 2016 as the Deputy Adjutant General of the North Carolina National Guard.
A Fayetteville loop was first considered in 1977. But similar projects in Charlotte were given funding priority for several years.
In 2005, the DOT received the I-295 designation as a future route with signs erected along initial sections of the route soon after that. Changes made in 2014 downgraded the freeway to NC 295, a temporary designation pending completion of the loop. The Outer Loop, as it is alternately known, improves connectivity between Fort Bragg and Interstate 95, a commitment the Army sought for decades.
It also provides a new commuter route between the post and the city of Fayetteville. The final design takes the bypass 39 miles around the north, west and south sides of Fayetteville. Once the section to Cliffdale Road is completed, the next project awarded by DOT at a cost of $85.2 million will be a 3.1-mile stretch to Raeford Road.
The final three legs of the beltway are being built simultaneously. A design-build concept makes it possible for Barnhill Contracting Co., Sanford Construction, and HDR Engineering to work together and combine all aspects of the plan from design through construction under a single contract.
Work includes replacing the Lake Rim runoff bridge over Bones Creek on Old Raeford Road. That fragment should be finished by May 2022. Then comes Raeford Road to Camden Road. A contract is set to be awarded by DOT this month with construction to be completed by 2023.
The final leg of the future interstate is from Camden Road to I-95 South just below the Cumberland/ Robeson County line. That $129.7 million design-build contract has already been awarded to the Wilmington-based team of Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., Branch Civil Inc. and STV Engineers Inc. and has a scheduled completion of July 2021.
When finished, I-295 will connect I-95 North and U.S. Highway 13 at Eastover to Fort Bragg. It then curves around Fayetteville and Hope Mills and reconnects to I-95 South above St. Pauls. Total cost will be $1 billion.