Stimulus project a boost to local company


First Posted: 4/8/2009

In addition to improving traffic flow in a nearby community, a federal stimulus project will be a shot in the arm to a Mount Airy construction company awarded the contract for the work.
It will probably create a few new jobs, other than providing for our existing people, said Frank Fulp, project manager of Smith-Rowe Inc.
It definitely will help us out tremendously as far as our workload, Fulp added Wednesday of the $15 million contract recently awarded to Smith-Rowe by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
The contract calls for the local company which now employs about 60 people to improve a major route north of Winston-Salem in Forsyth and Stokes counties. The project involves widening 1.1 miles of Main Street (State Road 1611/1112) from the entrance to the Reynolds American (formerly RJR Tobacco) plant in Forsyth County to Kirby Road (State Road 1115) in the city of King in Stokes County.
That road now has five narrow lanes, and it will be widened to a four-lane, median-divided boulevard, according to the Department of Transportation.
The Mount Airy company also will rebuild and widen a busy interchange in King where Main Street crosses over U.S. 52. A seven-lane roadway that includes new ramps onto U.S. 52 will be constructed there.
The economic-recovery funding will enable wider lanes to be provided and improve a congested route, especially during peak hours, in one of the fastest-growing parts of the region, according to Pat Ivey, a DOT division engineer overseeing the project. This project will help improve mobility, safety and promote economic development, Ivey said.
Fulp, the Smith-Rowe spokesman, said Wednesday that work will begin on April 27. He was unsure of the exact number of new jobs that could result from the project, the completion date for which is more than two years away, Aug. 15, 2011.
DOT officials say the project will create many different types of employment opportunities, including installing signals and masonry work for retaining walls.
Every $1 million spent on transportation creates 30 jobs, according to Federal Highway Administration estimates, while construction industry officials say that each dollar invested toward road needs trickles down into the economy six times.
The King-area project has been in the works for years and was a top priority for highway planners. However, it had been delayed several times due to budget shortfalls and would have been postponed again if not for the presence of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds that are allowing it to proceed.
Main Street serves as the central link between Stokes County and Forsyth County, and significant commercial development is located along the route. DOT traffic counts show that 21,000 vehicles use the highway every day, with traffic projected to increase to 34,800 vehicles daily by 2035.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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