US 70 Havelock Bypass Project Protects Sensitive Longleaf Pine Habitat
To earn the Sierra Club’s support for the $221 million U.S. 70 Havelock Bypass, the N. C. Department of Transportation took extensive measures to preserve sensitive longleaf pine forest habitat near the highway in coastal Craven County.
NCDOT gave the N.C. Coastal Land Trust:
- $5.3 million to create a fund that will protect land in the Croatan National Forest
- A conservation easement on 226 acres adjoining the project, to protect the property from development
- $2 million to create a revolving loan fund that will support land conservation in a three-county area.
NCDOT also adopted sensitive logging and construction practices to minimize disturbance of key habitats and sensitive wildlife, including the endangered red-cockaded woodpecker. The department promised to close the bypass to traffic whenever requested by the U.S. Forest Service, to allow for the occasional controlled burning longleaf pines need to reproduce and thrive.
U.S. 70 is a primary east-west corridor central and eastern North Carolina. It serves beachgoers from Raleigh and Greensboro, personnel from several military installations, and motorists moving freight from the Port of Morehead City.
The 10.3-mile Havelock Bypass, which is scheduled for completion in 2022, is part of a program to upgrade U.S. 70 to interstate standards from the Raleigh area to Morehead City; it has been designated Future Interstate 42.