TAR HEEL – The N.C. Department of Transportation will improve truck access to the sprawling Smithfield Foods plant in Bladen County. Some rerouting of employee and truck traffic has already been underway.
To support the plant’s $100 million expansion that company officials announced last year, NCDOT will improve the safety and traffic flow of the plant entrances along N.C. 87 south of Fayetteville. The expansion will increase the number of trucks visiting the hog-processing facility each day.
The department this month awarded a nearly $1.1 million contract to Barnhill Contracting Co. of Rocky Mount to add lanes in both directions that will allow tractor-trailers to accelerate before merging into highway traffic, or to let the big rigs decelerate out of the travel lanes before turning into the plant.
“Improving our state’s infrastructure is one way to support economic development, and this project also will boost the highway safety around the plant,” said Terry Hutchens, a state transportation board member from Fayetteville.
Additionally, two median breaks in the highway will be reconfigured to allow trucks to safely enter or exit the plant. The redesigned median will restrict other types of traffic movements, such as by preventing drivers from crossing from one side of the highway to the other through the median.
With the new contract, Barnhill also will finish resurfacing project around the plant where the old asphalt has been milled away.
The work will start this summer and wrap up by early next year.