BUIES CREEK — Opening up State Highway 401 for easier access to Raleigh and Fayetteville. Building a sidewalk for safe access to the new medical school from Campbell’s main campus. A possible tunnel under U.S. Highway 421 to connect the football stadium with main campus. Better street lighting. Curbs and gutters on surrounding rural roads.
Campbell’s wishlist to the N.C. Department of Transportation is long, but President Jerry Wallace knows what street improvements can do for a growing university. He talked about these needs Thursday during a visit from Tony Tata, North Carolina’s new transportation secretary. Tata, the former superintendent of Wake County Schools who was appointed to head state transportation earlier this year by new Gov. Pat McCrory, and members of his staff met with Campbell University administration, as well as town managers and city and county elected officials from Harnett, to talk about those needs and the state’s new formula for determining what roads get attention.
“Campbell is on a steep growth trajectory,” Wallace said, “and these improvements would help immensely.”
Help for N.C. 401, an important corridor that connects Fayetteville to Lillington to Raleigh, could be on the way under the state’s new “strategic mobility formula,” according to Tata. The data-driven formula takes into account a series of variables such as the reduction of travel time and congestion, how it will affect a local economy, safety and more; and according to the state, incorporates more local feedback.
“The bottom line is,” Tata said, “the old equity formula is no more, and we believe this new formula is the best way [to determine road projects]. I looked at this N.C. 401 project, and that’s something I believe would score pretty high.”
Wallace said he is all too familiar with what help from the state DOT can do to improve Campbell. He said the two recent roundabouts constructed on Leslie Campbell Avenue have not only reduced traffic congestion and provided safer crossings, but they’ve also improved the aesthetics of the campus and have “pulled the campus together and made it more of a community.” The DOT also recently added a turning lane and other highway improvements on N.C. 421 near the entrance of the new Levine Hall of Medical Sciences.
“The buildings, landscape design and road improvements have made us more attractive and thereby made us a better home for our students,” Wallace said. “Yet, our needs continue.”
Wallace also thanked city officials on hand from Dunn, Angier, Lillington and Erwin and county officials in attendance for Thursday’s meeting for their work in providing improvements to Campbell.
By Billy Liggett
Photo: N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata (center) talks with Dunn Mayor and Campbell Trustee Oscar Harris (left) and Campbell President Jerry Wallace during a meeting on state and county transportation issues Thursday.