Local News

For Benson, Silence is Golden

Posted March 5, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— For years, Benson was known as the place to go if you wanted to cruise the streets aimlessly in your car of an evening.

The custom, which tended to attract lots of young people interested in meeting each other and showing off their wheels, tied traffic through the modest downtown into a virtual knot.

But a crackdown on cruising has put an end to the tie-ups. Mayor Don Johnson hails the effect of the ordinance, saying that many older people and their grandchildren are now out enjoying Benson in normal fashion. Johnson says by taking back control of the streets, the city is becoming a better place to live and attracting new businesses and jobs.

Not everyone agrees. Some local business owners, such as pizza shops, say their business has been affected adversely by cutting down on the traffic.

The Johnston County town is on Highway 50, and at the intersection of Interstates 95 and 40.

In summer months, the traffic snarl was even worse on Friday and Sunday nights, when the warm temperatures brought out more cruising cars, combining them with people headed to or from the beach. For years, Tar Heels knew to be ready to lose significant time as they tried to get from one side of Benson to the other.