The Town of Benson is taking steps to ease congestion at one of its busiest intersections.
Last month, the Benson Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to purchase a residential property at the corner of East Main Street and North Dunn Street. The town and owner are still drawing up the contract, but the purchase price cannot exceed $175,000.
Buying the house and then razing it will allow the town to align North Dunn Street with South Dunn. A traffic signal could go there in the future.
A McDonald’s is at the corner of Main Street and South Dunn Street. South Dunn is also a popular way into a shopping center that is home to a Food Lion and Pizza Hut. Commercial truck traffic continues to grow through that area as well, according to Town Manager Matt Zapp.
A recent count showed about 10,000 vehicles going through the intersection daily.
“This decision was made to improve public safety, economic development and the vitality of our Main Street business district,” Zapp said. “These developments will ease congestion and improve safety as the Benson community along the I-95 corridor continues to grow.”
The McDonald’s at Main and Dunn has indicated to the town that it aims to expand to accommodate increased business. It plans to tear down and rebuild its restaurant and install a two-lane drive-thru.
“There are positive and good things happening,” Zapp said. “We are doing our part to prepare for that anticipated growth patterns.”
Benson will also benefit from the N.C. Department of Transportation’s accelerated time line for road projects. State lawmakers passed a budget this summer that will give the DOT $1.6 billion in funding over the next 10 years. The department also has $250 million more per year for maintenance, such as replacing bridges and repaving roads.
Gov. Pat McCrory released a list of 168 highway projects that the DOT will add to work schedule or move up on the 10-year calendar. Some work will take place several years sooner than originally planned.
Benson will benefit from the widening of N.C. 242 to multiple lanes from U.S. 301 to Interstate 40, Zapp said. The $23.6 million project should take place in 2025.
The DOT will accelerate four other projects in Johnston County, according to Zapp.
“We are confident all of these improvements will have a positive effect on Benson and Johnston County as we plan for the future with thoughtful planning and wise investments at the local and state levels,” he said.
In other Johnston County projects, the DOT will:
▪ Widen Buffalo Road to three lanes from U.S. 70 to Old Beulah Road in Selma. That’s the section of Buffalo Road that runs by the Selma oil terminals. The DOT has moved the $7.2 million project up three years to 2018.
▪ Make improvements to Wilson’s Mills Road from Swift Creek Road to Fire Department Road in the Town of Wilson’s Mills. The $1 million project moves up two years to 2018.
▪ Widen Ricks Road in Selma from two to three lanes from U.S. 70 to U.S. 301. The $4 million project is scheduled for 2018 instead of 2021.
▪ Build a new two-lane route to connect Shotwell Road to N.C. 42 in Clayton. Construction of the $27.7 million project is scheduled for 2025. It had been unfunded.