ATLANTA -- In a move that adds about $1.1 billion to proposed state road building between now and 2001, Gov. Jim Hunt of North Carolina announced on Thursday a new seven-year state transportation master plan.

Hunt's Transportation 2001 plan also changes the way the state implements its annual seven-year projection of transportation spending. In the past, projects were completed as money became available. Under the new plan, projects are ranked, and then some are targeted for completion before new ones can be initiated.

In addition, Hunt's new approach expands transportation priorities identified in the master plan to include maintenance and public transportation.

Transportation 2001 "goes beyond piecemeal road projects to look at North Carolina's future economic development needs and how we can address those needs with transportation," Hunt said.

Some of the new funding proposed by Hunt's plan would be used to speed up completion of an outer-belt road around Charlotte. Other accelerated projects would include renovation of Interstate 26 from Asheville to Tennessee, widening of U.S. 74 along the state's southern border, and widening of U.S. 17 along the Atlantic coast.

The plan would add a total of about $530 million to accelerate 71 highway construction projects. Other new funding would include $260 million to cover the state's road maintenance backlog.

About $150 million of the funds necessary to pay for the additions would come from debt service freed up by the retirement of highway bonds issued in 1977. The remainder would flow from $580 million in allocations from the state's Highway Trust Fund, $410 million expected from the federal government, and $250 million in revenue growth.

The trust fund, set up in 1989 by Hunt's predecessor, Gov. Jim Martin, uses gasoline tax revenues to finance road-building projects.

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