Future interstate gets federal OK
By Lindell John Kay
Friday, November 25, 2016
The U.S. Transportation Department has provided final approval of designating U.S. 264 as an interstate between Zebulon and Greenville through southern Nash County.
“I am thrilled that the transformation of Highway 264 into a Future Interstate will officially become a reality,” said U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-1st District. “This approval will make the Future Interstate Greenville’s first connection to a major interstate highway.”
Greenville is the largest city in North Carolina without direct interstate access.
Having I-587 running through southern Nash County could assist with much needed economic development, said Dan Cone, the incoming Nash County commissioner for District 3, which includes the small towns of Middlesex and Bailey, both of which sit along U.S. 264.
“I'm hopeful it will help,” Cone said.
Butterfield applauded U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-3rd District, for working with him on nonpartisan legislation to transform the highway into an interstate.
“I thank Congressman Jones for his strong support in this effort to better connect Eastern North Carolina with neighboring regions along Interstate 95 and the Eastern Seaboard,” Butterfield said.
Jones said he introduced the Eastern North Carolina Gateway Act to underline the need for high-quality infrastructure in the greater Greenville area.
“I am pleased that the N.C. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration agree that Future Interstate 587 is a crucial investment in the future of our regional economy,” Jones said. “This milestone would not have been possible without the support of transportation advocates throughout our state, including my colleagues Congressman G.K. Butterfield and Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.”
The approval announcement by the DOT follows Butterfield’s letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx calling for federal approval of the N.C. DOT’s request to designate portions of U.S. 264 as a Future Interstate.
The request made by the state closely follows the Eastern North Carolina Gateway Act of 2016, which was introduced in the U.S. House by Butterfield and Jones as H.R. 6105. The bill called for better connection between Eastern North Carolina and I-95. NCDOT has committed to completing the Future Interstate within 25 years.