LOUISBURG, N.C. — It could be at least another seven years before the state Department of Transportation begins widening a 12-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 401 in Louisburg.
Even then, it's no guarantee. The problem, according to the DOT, is that funding is limited.
And with more traffic in northern Wake County, administrators say projects there have to take priority.
Louisburg Mayor Karl Pernell and local business owners say they have heard for more than two decades about the estimated $43 million widening project.
It would expand U.S. 401 from two lanes to four lanes from N.C. Highway 96 to N.C. Highway 56.
"If this town is to survive, it has to happen," said local business owner Phyllis Bulbreath, whose family has run D & J Automotive for more than 40 years.
She sees the traffic on U.S. 401 every day. And every day, she says, she notices a pattern of more vehicles leaving Louisburg, headed south for Raleigh, than coming north.
Many other business owners say they see the same pattern. They believe widening U.S. 401 will help reverse that pattern.
"We really, desperately, need 401 to be widened," Pernell said. "And the earlier they do it, the better."
"The industry comes, and then, the people will come, and we'll naturally grow," he added.