About ready to ride
A roadway project in the works since President John F. Kennedy traversed the halls of the White House will become a reality early next month.
Crews for the N.C. Department of Transportation are putting the last touches on the final segment of U.S. 311 through northern Randolph County, with the 8-mile section scheduled to open after the first of June.
The DOT hoped to finish the section from Cedar Square Road in Glenola to U.S. 220 north of Asheboro by Memorial Day weekend. But rainy weather has delayed the completion.
“We expect to open the U.S. 311 Bypass the first week of June,” said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott. “The paving of the roadway was completed a few weeks ago, but work such as laying down the traffic lane markings requires dry and warmer weather.”
The last section of U.S. 311 cost $99.7 million. The previously completed section, finished in June 2011, was $104 million, the DOT reports. The previous section to open extends from Interstate 85 Business Loop in south High Point to Cedar Square Road.
The plans for U.S. 311 from Interstate 40 in Winston-Salem to U.S. 220 in Randolph County date on transportation planning documents to the early 1960s.
Area economic developers have lobbied for the expressway during five decades, viewing the road as another key artery for business growth. The full length of U.S. 311 in the Piedmont will become part of the Interstate 74 system, which will reach from the South Carolina coast to the Midwest.
“Both the business community and the general public have been looking forward to the opening of this section of Interstate 74.
This next step toward completing the highway in the state greatly improves High Point’s connectivity to the south — to Asheboro, the Sandhillls area, the South Carolina coast and beyond,” said Loren Hill, president of the High Point Economic Development Corp.
The significance of the project is reflected in plans by the DOT to recognize the occasion.
“We expect to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening, as well as the designation of that stretch of highway as a Blue Star Memorial Highway in tribute to the U.S. military for their service to the country,” Abbott said.
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U.S. 311 time line
Section from Interstate 40 in Forsyth County to N. Main Street in High Point — Completed in phases from late 1970s to mid- to late 1980s
Section from N. Main to Eastchester Drive — Completed in mid- to late 1990s
Section from Eastchester to Interstate 85 Business Loop — Completed in 2004
Section from I-85 Business Loop to Cedar Square Road in Randolph County — Completed June 2011
Section from Cedar Square Road to U.S. 220 — To open in early June
Sources: N.C. Department of Transportation, archives of The High Point Enterprise