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NCDOT Sets Timeline for US 221 Bypass Road Work

FOREST CITY — The much anticipated State Transportation Improvement Program has been released and includes updates on the US 221 widening project through Rutherford County and the bypass project around Rutherfordton.

Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2020 for the Rutherfordton bypass. Rights of way are expected to be completed in 2015 and 2017-18 for the project, which will involve the towns of Ruth, Rutherfordton and Spindale.

The time line for construction of the bypass around Rutherfordton is 2020. DOT’s plan to locate the off ramps at the southwest quadrant of the proposed interchange with Charlotte Road will lead to the razing of the new $1.25 million Veterans Administration Regional Outpatient Clinic, town officials said. The clinic is in the southwest quadrant and was strategically placed there to provide the best possible access from US 74A, US74 and US 221.

The clinic serves more than 13,000 patients per year and employees 25 full-time staff with plans to increase staff and services.

Last Wednesday night, Rutherfordton Town Council unanimously passed a resolution asking DOT to relocate its proposed off ramps for the new US 221 Rutherfordton Bypass.

The resolution asks that the off ramps be at the northwest quadrant at the intersection with Charlotte Road. Construction is slated for 2019.

In a letter to the NC Department of Transportation, Rutherfordton Mayor Jimmy Dancy said: “The Town of Rutherfordton respectfully requests the department to continue reviewing this matter and develop an alternative plan that avoids the obliteration and relocation of this important facility that is essential to the regional economy and the health and welfare of the Rutherford County region.”

DOT officials are having a pre-design workshop with elected officials from the three municipalities at 11 a.m. today in Rutherfordton City Hall. A meeting for the general public will be held later.

According to the plan, construction will continue through 2013 and 2014 for the widening projects of US 221 from the South Carolina state line to US 74 into Rutherfordton.

TIP projects include replacing the bridge over Broad River near Bill’s Creek Road on US64/74 to be completed by 2015. Construction projects beyond R-S Central High School toward Gilkey and Interstate 40 will go beyond 2020.

As part of its overall mission, the Isothermal Planning Development Commission works with local governments in McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties and the NCDOT to develop multi-faceted solutions to transportation issues facing the region.

The list of projects are then sent to NCDOT, where they are assigned scores based on quantitative data.

“The Isothermal Rural Planning Organization listed the US 221 widening project as one of its top projects for the region,” said Joshua King, regional planner with Isothermal Planning and Development Commission. “We are happy to see NCDOT moving forward with several sections of this vital transportation artery for the region.”

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