Eastern North Carolina’s representatives in Congress want President Barack Obama’s administration to quickly sign off on designating U.S. 264 as a future interstate – a move proponents say would be a step toward better transportation options for the state’s largest city without an interstate highway.
North Carolina’s request for Highway 264’s interstate status is pending on the desk of U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx, a former mayor from Charlotte, N.C. The document – called a memorandum of understanding – wouldn’t allocate any federal money but local officials say it would help them immediately start marketing the area to prospective companies looking to relocate where roads will meet their needs. And, the federal designation would prioritize funding for the future interstate corridor.
As a booming center of innovation across a wide range of industries, it is vital that the greater Greenville area has access to high-quality infrastructure and transportation.
Rep. Walter Jones, Republican from Eastern North Carolina
State transportation officials want to build out the thoroughfare over the next 25 years to better connect Greenville and surrounding areas. Most of the stretch of road from Greenville to Zebulon, east of Raleigh, is built to interstate highway standards.
The interstate project is supported by U.S. Reps. G.K. Butterfield, Democrat from Wilson, and Walter Jones, Republican from Farmville, as well as North Carolina’s two Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr, from Winston-Salem, and Thom Tillis, from Huntersville. Supporters say developing Highway 264 into an interstate connected to Interstate 95 and neighboring Virginia and South Carolina would be a boon for local residents and the economy.
“Connecting Eastern North Carolina to neighboring states and regions will play a crucial role in the sustainable long-term growth of the area,” Jones said in a news statement Monday. “As a booming center of innovation across a wide range of industries, it is vital that the greater Greenville area has access to high-quality infrastructure and transportation.”
Butterfield said getting Foxx’s approval would be a step toward providing modern transportation infrastructure in a region where it’s badly needed. Greenville is North Carolina’s 10th-largest city and the only one in the top 10 without an interstate highway.