Business owners balk at design for Rocky Mount road widening

Posted August 27, 2010

Road Construction

— Rocky Mount business owners and elected leaders say that a plan to widen Winstead Avenue will harm the city's already fragile economy.

A state Department of Transportation-approved design would turn Winstead Avenue into six-lane, divided highway from Sunset Avenue to Hunter Hill Road, just north of U.S. Highway 64.

"We're not at all opposed to the widening of the road," said John Barker, president and chief executive of Providence Bank.

However, explained Barker, the proposed design will make it hard for customers to get in and out of businesses along Winstead Avenue.

DOT's plan for the $17 million project does not include a turn lane.

That means that getting to Providence Bank on Winstead Avenue would involve driving past the bank and making a U-turn at a traffic light.

Controversy erupts over Rocky Mount road project Controversy erupts over Rocky Mount road project

More than 20 business owners enlisted state Sen. A.B. Swindell's help to push for a different design.

"If we go further in trying to block things so people can't get in and out of businesses, we're not doing a service to our businesspeople, nor the citizens who have to run this road," Swindell said.

Some business owners are pushing for a smaller, five-lane road with a center turn lane. DOT officials, though, said that design would more dangerous than a divided highway.

Construction isn't scheduled to start until June 2011 and will last a year. Business owners said it's not too late for the DOT to redesign the road.

However, DOT division engineer Bobby Lewis said the design is a done deal.

"I think what we have designed is the best option," Lewis said.

With double-digit unemployment – 12 percent in Nash County and 15 percent in Edgecombe County – Barker said the state shouldn't do something that will hurt the local economy.

"We need to fight for the businesses in Rocky Mount and get us back to full employment in the area," Barker said.

Winstead Avenue widening project

View Rocky Mount Road widening in a larger map


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  • Notinitforthemoney Aug 27, 2010

    On not a U turn to get to something... Stop crying people and drive the extra 100 yards

  • lizzard lick repo Aug 27, 2010

    speaking of the douglass block, rocky mount needs to bulldoze that whole area and then pave over it. the rocky mount just loves wasting government grant money.

  • mhazouri Aug 27, 2010

    Not a good thing for that city. More of the same. Knock out small businesses and property owners in favor of shopping centers.

  • ncwiseguy Aug 27, 2010

    rocky mount should widen thomas street over at the douglas block...........provide more gathering room for the locals...

  • silencedogood Aug 27, 2010

    Mr. John Barker, you need to get out of Rocky Mount every now and then. Take a drive to Raleigh, Durham, Wilmington or Greensboro. Notice some of there heavier traffic streets don't have center turn lanes either. Oh yea lets scrap a multimillion dollar traffic plan (already approved by NCDOT and the City of Rocky Mount) for a new design so (some) people can turn into your bank easier? This is CrAzY?????