Smithfield: Opinion

Road projects in Johnston pass muster

Some folks are wondering how two Johnston County projects made the list of road needs that North Carolina might meet with bond dollars. It’s our understanding that Gov. Pat McCrory asked the N.C. Department of Transportation to suggests meaningful road projects that were partially done.

In that case, the Johnston County projects qualify. In Clayton, the DOT has already widened N.C. 42 East from U.S. 70 Business to Glen Laurel Road. Widening the road further – from Glen Laurel Road to Buffalo – would certainly make an impact, which is what the governor wants.

On the days we work in our Clayton office, we see the cars streaming onto U.S. 70 Business from N.C. 42 East, so many cars that it’s sometimes hard to merge right into the lane that carries us to Main Street. We’re sure commuters would appreciate a four-lane road to and from their neighborhoods.

Would four lanes spur economic growth? Thanks largely to Flowers Plantation developer Becky Flowers, N.C. 42 East is already home to hundreds of houses and a growing retail base, including Harris Teeter and Food Lion grocery stores. It’s safe to assume that easier access via four lanes would speed the development of Flowers Plantation and bring building to undeveloped land east of Clayton.

It’s safe to assume also that rerouting Booker Dairy Road in Smithfield would, at least, open up scores of acres to commercial and residential development. On its eastern end, Booker Dairy now meets Bright Leaf Boulevard at the intersection that’s home, among other things, to CVS, a convenience store and an eye doctor’s office. Rerouting the road would take it behind the shopping centers that are home to Belk and Walmart. All of that now-vacant land would be ripe for new homes and businesses, and the town says it has already had inquiries about both.

The same project that would reroute Booker Dairy would also widen it from the end of that new route west to the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center. We’re certain the folks at two schools – Smithfield-Selma High and Neuse Charter – would appreciate that.

In our line of work, objectivity is an occupational hazard, so it’s possible other communities across North Carolina have road needs that are just as pressing as those here in Johnston County. But when it comes to meeting the governor’s criteria – partially completed projects with impact potential – we can easily defend N.C. East 42 in Clayton and Booker Dairy Road in Smithfield.