The section of Interstate 95 that passes through Benson and Dunn hasn’t changed much since it opened in 1959. It’s still four lanes wide, with exit and entrance ramps that were state-of-the-art in an earlier era.
That will begin to change soon, when contractors start widening a 9-mile stretch of the highway to eight lanes and rebuilding four interchanges, with taller and wider bridges, longer acceleration lanes and realigned service roads.
The N.C. Department of Transportation this month awarded a $236.5 million contract to rebuild I-95 from Interstate 40 in Johnston County south to near the Long Branch Road exit in Harnett County. Work will begin sometime after Aug. 30 and could take until the summer of 2026 to complete.
The four interchanges that will be rebuilt are Hodges Chapel Road, Jonesboro Road, East Cumberland Street and Joe Pope Road.
The project includes converting two culverts to bridges to allow water to flow more freely under the highway. Water has gotten backed up at the culverts after recent hurricanes, flooding the road, according to NCDOT.
NCDOT also plans changes off the interstate. At Exit 79, where N.C. 50 crosses the highway in Benson, it plans to build roundabouts at the exit and entrance ramps on either side of the bridge, in an effort to improve safety and traffic flow.
Contractors will also build a new bridge to extend South Market Street over I-95 to connect with Cub Road. The new connection will give drivers another option for crossing the highway in Benson, without having to pass through the congested N.C. 50 interchange.
The project is the second part of an effort to widen I-95 north of Fayetteville to eight lanes. Contractors started work on a 15-mile section from near Exit 55 in Cumberland County to Long Branch Road in the fall of 2019. That part of the road is expected to be finished in the summer of 2024.