State improves roads near Sanderson Farms plant in St. Pauls

ST. PAULS – The N.C. Department of Transportation has finished upgrading roads to accommodate a new $155 million Sanderson Farms chicken processing plant in Robeson County.

Since the sprawling plant began production in January, truck traffic hauling chickens has greatly increased on N.C. 20. The plant is about two miles west of St. Pauls, and many of the trucks are using Exit 31 on Interstate 95 to reach the plant.

In anticipation of the increased truck traffic, the state Commerce and Transportation departments in 2015 approved a $1.7 million economic development project to add turn lanes to the N.C. 20/I-95 interchange ramps and install traffic signals.

The project also paid for adding turns lanes to the plant entrance on N.C. 20, as well as improving the signalized intersection of N.C. 71 and N.C. 20 in the nearby Lumber Bridge community.

When the plant reaches full capacity by early next year, it is expected to employ more than 1,000 workers and process more than one million chickens each week.

“The additional traffic generated by the 1,000 new jobs meant improvements were needed in front of the plant and at the I-95 interchange,” said Greg Burns, the Division 6 Engineer for NCDOT. “The state recognized it needed to make improvements for this major economic development expansion.”

While the public began using the road improvements a few months ago, the project was completed last week.