Construction to begin next summer for I-95 widening project through Lumberton

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Oct. 6—LUMBERTON — The project to widen Interstate 95 through Lumberton is moving forward thanks to a new contract approved recently by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The NCDOT approved a $432 million contract last week for the project that will widen eight miles of Interstate 95 through Lumberton and include upgrades to bridges. The project seeks to make that stretch of the interstate safer, less congested and more resilient in future storms, according to the NCDOT.

"This modernization is long overdue," said Grady Hunt, a state Transportation Board member who lives in Robeson County.

"This vital corridor needs to be widened, but also upgraded to be more resilient against future hurricanes," Hunt said.

The design-build contract went to the Morrisville-based joint venture of Flatiron Constructors Inc. and United Infrastructure Group Inc., according to NCDOT.

The design-build contracting method is a more efficient way to deliver projects because it combines the design, environmental permitting, property acquisition, utility relocation and construction under one contract. This means the contracting and design team will finalize the design and right-of-way plans before construction can begin next summer.

The project consists of widening the interstate into eight lanes, which will result in four travel lanes in each direction. The Lumberton project will take place from Exit 13 to just north of mile marker 21. Another contract to be awarded next year will widen the interstate north of mile marker 21, according to NCDOT.

By the end of the year, safety improvements will be completed on the existing I-95 concrete median barrier. However, the interstate widening project will not begin until next summer, when additional concrete barriers will be installed in the median and along the shoulders to create a safe work zone.

The interstate's four lanes will remain open in the daytime during construction. Some lanes, however, will be temporarily reduced for overnight construction. The improvements to the 8-mile stretch are scheduled to be completed by the late summer of 2026.

Bridges also will be replaced at Exits 17, 19 and 20, according to the NCDOT. The existing bridges at Exits 13 and 22 are newer and do not need to be replaced.

Additionally, the interstate bridges crossing the Lumber River will be replaced with elevated, longer bridges, and dirt will be brought in for other sections to raise the interstate grade and help mitigate future flooding, according to NCDOT.

Interstate 95 at the Lumber River near Exit 19 closed twice for several days as a result of flooding from hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

In 2019, the NCDOT received a $22.5 million federal grant, known as the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) program, to help upgrade the interstate after hurricane flooding. The rest of the funding for the project comes from the department's Highway Trust Fund and other federal sources commonly used for highway construction.

The Lumberton area is one section of the widening project planned within Robeson County. The project is divided into four sections from mile markers 13 to 21, 21 to 29, 29-37 and 37-40. The NCDOT also is widening other sections of I-95 north of Fayetteville.

The projects through Robeson County have seen delays because of budget cuts related to COVID-19, Andrew Barksdale, an NCDOT spokesman told The Robesonian in October 2020.

For more details, to view the design maps or watch videos depicting the scope of work, visit NCDOT's website.

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