NCDOT slams brakes on Evans Street widening project

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The N.C. Department of Transportation is slamming the brakes on plans to widen Evans Street in Greenville.

The agency sent a letter to Mayor Allen Thomas saying that restrictions required by the Greenville City Council were “not attainable.”

Read The Letter

The $35 million dollar project would widen the Evans Street-Old Tar Road thoroughfare from near Red Banks Road Greenville to near Worthington Road in Winterville. The project would include four 12-foot-wide lanes, a 23-foot median, sidewalks and bicycle lanes.

It’s all an effort to increase capacity and improve traffic flow along one of the area’s busiest roadways.

“It’s a rural road in an urban setting,” said Tony Parker, who uses Evans Street.

The project hit two important roadblocks, however. Residents from the South Hall, Paramore, and Shamrock subdivisions voiced their opposition during a city council meeting, citing concerns about property values and the tearing down of berms and walls.

Mary Snow Hill lives along Evans Street, and she said that “as much of a barrier as we can have between 45 miles an hour traffic and our neighborhood, the better it is for the enjoyment of our property and our neighbors.”

She is not against the project, but she said she wants limited changes to her neighborhood.

Other residents were adamant about the inclusion of bike lanes and sidewalks. In fact, a 1,000 signature petition was presented at the council meeting on Feb. 9.

That’s when District 5 Councilman P.J. Connelly motioned for a guarantee that the preferred plan not affect property along the subdivisions. Three others on the council sided with him despite objections from NCDOT project engineer Wiliam Kincannon who basically said it wasn’t possible.

The project stretches for miles and crosses into multiples municipalities, much of it in Winterville.

“Winterville was never contacted and asked about their opinion of it,” said Douglas Jackson, Winterville’s mayor. “I feel like we should have some input in it.”

Jackson said the town was looked over in the decision-making process.

“Dot listens more to what Greenville wants than anybody else,” Jackson said.

The DOT said the decision to halt work was based on the facts.

“We’re not pushing one scenario or another, ” said Kincannon, the NCDOT project engineer.

Project managers told 9 On Your Side they were confident a compromise will be reached, and Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas echoed the DOT’s remarks, saying it is all part of the process.

The project was said to begin property acquisition as early as 2019.

Wondering how it got to this point? Check out our timeline below:

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