US 301 TIGER Grant Project: Road to Opportunity
In late 2015, the City of Wilson was awarded a $10 million federal grant to improve a portion of US 301. The highly-competitive TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant is awarded to only seven percent of applicants. The extensive grant agreement process began in early 2016 and will continue until 2017. In November 2016, the North Carolina Board of Transportation added $6.5 million to the project, meaning a larger section of the highway corridor will be included. The state board’s decision makes the project a nearly $18 million investment in the 301 corridor.
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Click links below to review the full TIGER Grant Application and other information:
Q: What Will The Project Involve?
A: The project’s goal is to add a raised median, sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks and improve the storm water infrastructure along a 1.2 mile section of US 301. Most of the money will be spent on infrastructure, like drainage systems under the ground. While you may not be able to see all of the improvement that will be made, these new systems will eliminate the open ditches and other area of concern along this section of the highway.
Q: Where Is The Section Of 301 That Will Be Improved?
A: The project includes the section of highway between Black Creek Rd. and Lipscomb Rd. This specific section of the highway was included in the grant application and the location cannot be moved, according to the grant contract.
Q: Who Is Involved In This Project?
A: The City of Wilson is the grant recipient and will be coordinating the design work with the NC DOT. Many departments will be involved in the planning and construction. These groups will work together to hire an approved DOT contractor that will complete the work.
Q: When Will The Improvements Be Complete?
A: The contract to secure the grant is extensive. As you can imagine, the DOT has very strict rules and regulations involved with receiving this large amount of money. Our first step is to finalize the grant agreement, which will happen in mid-2016. After that, we must finalize all of the construction plans and submit them for approval. Construction should begin in 2018-19 and must be completed by 2022. This timeline is very similar to other comparable highway construction projects, considering the many safety and planning concerns.
Q: Can The Money Be Transferred To Another Project?
A: No, we cannot transfer the TIGER funding to another project. We are bound to the project that was submitted and awarded. the TIGER grant is very competitive and we cannot make changes that could jeopardize the grant contract. The application we submitted in 2015 was based on input from several community meetings and years of conversation about improvements needed on 301.
Q: Did The City Of Wilson Receive The Full Requested Grant?
A: Once the grant award was announced, the City began the process of requesting State transportation dollars to fill the nearly $7 million dollar funding gap. Presently, two different requests have been made to the State DOT for funding. Rest assured we are working hard to secure the funding for the full project. The state’s infrastructure needs are extensive if you consider the entire state and we are working diligently to complete the full project.
Q: When Does The Project Have To Be Completed?
A: The project must be complete and all grant funds disbursed by September 30, 2022.
Q: When Can the Project Start?
A: The project has already officially started, even though you can’t see it on the ground. We have already assembled the project team and are completing the required federal grant agreement with the Federal Highway Administration. We will continue to work on all of the pre-construction work. Actual construction on the ground may not be seen for a few more years.
Q: Is the city’s comprehensive plan being considered in the TIGER grant plan?
A: Yes, the comprehensive plan adopted by the City in 2010 was an important component of the TIGER grant application. The community input that was gathered as part of the comprehensive plan development was included with the additional community input we gathered in 2015 as part of the TIGER application process.
Q: Will the contracts be offered to minority and/or Wilson-based contractors who meet the requirements?
A: All contractors much be approved by the NCDOT through their selection method. NCDOT is committed to ensuring all North Carolina businesses have the opportunity to participate in projects. They are responsible for advocating, administering, implementing, and monitoring equal employment opportunity programs for recipients of state and federal funds. NCDOT’s qualification process is intended to ensure all contractors have sufficient ability and experience to do the work specified in NCDOT contracts.
Q: Once the project is approved, will the City of Wilson approve the $2 million to be added to the project?
A: Yes, the City has committed to spend $2 million toward the project.
Q: How will this project be a catalyst for development within the 301 corridor?
A: The 301 corridor is Wilson’s “front door” and we expect improvements to the corridor to make the area more attractive to development. Included in the City’s work plan for the 301 corridor is an economic development plan to address future growth. Work has already been done to clean up brownfield sites in the area.
Q: Are there any additional brownfield areas within the project area?
A: Any brownfield areas along the project area will not affect the project. Brownfields are usually on private property and rarely in the right-of-way.
Q: Will the grant money be used for brownfield cleanup?
A: No, the TIGER grant money will only be used for project planning and construction for the roadway. Additional money is available for brownfield cleanup. View our brownfields page for more information.
Q: What is a brownfield?
A: A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfields in the U.S. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes development pressures off of undeveloped, open land, and both improves and protects the environment.
Q: Who is spearheading efforts on the TIGER grant project?
A: The City of Wilson is the grant recipient and is ultimately responsible for the project. City staff is managing the project in close cooperation with NCDOT and US DOT.
Q: What is the expected completion date?
A: All of the work must be completed by the summer of 2022. While this may seem like a long time, it is very reasonable for major road construction. The average road building project completion time in North Carolina is seven years. The actual construction of the road is not the most time consuming phase. The engineering work is expected to take two years.
We want to keep the entire community, and especially the neighbors near the project area, informed on the progress of the grant. We will continue to expand the Frequently Asked Question section of this project page, however, if you still have questions please contact Rodger Lentz, Chief Planning and Development Officer.