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Catawba County road improvements, widenings delayed 1 to 9 years | Govt. and Politics



N.C. 127

This file photo from August shows signs of work on N.C. 127. At least four projects on the road have been delayed due to NCDOT shortfalls. The widening of the highway in Bethlehem is part of the list of delayed projects




After several years of severe storms, expensive lawsuit settlements, overspending and now a pandemic, the N.C. Department of Transportation was forced to slash its budget and halt all road improvement projects — delaying at least 14 in Catawba County.

Western Piedmont Council of Governments Executive Director Anthony Starr said any project that did not already have a contractor hired to do construction was delayed. The projects in Catawba County were delayed anywhere from one to nine years, he said during a presentation to the Catawba County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting Monday night.

“I wish I had a presentation that delivers better news than I had tonight,” he said.

The delays relate back to four major expenses the NCDOT has faced in recent years, the most recent related to COVID-19, Starr said. Less road traffic and economic activity have decreased revenue to the NCDOT by an estimated $300 million for the fiscal year 2019-20 that ended in July, and another $370 million revenue loss is anticipated for this fiscal year, 2020-21.

The department also faced high costs from storm damage in recent years, Starr said. There has been $400 million spent on storm recovery and repairs in the last two years, well over the previous annual average of $66 million.

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The state auditor also recently found that NCDOT overspent its budget by $742 million in fiscal year 2019. That’s an overage of about 12 percent.

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