New Bern’s First Street project on the fast track

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) – Addition by subtraction, that’s what could happen for one busy stretch of road in New Bern by year’s end.

It’s one of the major entrances into the city of New Bern. Just off of the US 70 freeway is First Street, a busy, four-lane city street. But the New Bern Area Metropolitan Planning Association wants the look of this corridor to change and they’ve asked NCDOT to help. “This is an instance where we’re trying to construct what they’ve asked for, basically,” said Jeff Cabaniss, division planning engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. He added, “They would like, basically, instead of it being four lanes and look more like a highway, they want it to look more like a residential or urban setting, so it will slow the traffic down.”nd while many urban areas are adding lanes to existing thoroughfares to help with traffic congestion, this project will actually take away lanes. it’s a practice sometimes referred to as a “road diet.”

And while many urban areas are adding lanes to existing thoroughfares to help with traffic congestion, this project will actually take away lanes. it’s a practice sometimes referred to as a “road diet.” “So what this project does is repaint the lines in a different configuration. So instead of having two lanes in each direction, you’ll have a center turn lane, one lane in each direction and you would take the width of the lanes that you reduced and use that for the bike lanes on the sides,” said Cabaniss.

The project is on DOT’s State Transportation Improvement Program, or STIP, and was originally thought to be completed around 2026. But because of the logistics of the project, Cabaniss and his colleagues told New Bern’s board of alderman last week, the work could actually be done later this year. “Since we don’t have to expand out, that’s why we think we can pull it up. It’s basically a resurfacing contract. So we can do those fairly quickly,” Cabaniss explained. “We do have to add in the sidewalks but those can be done fairly quickly.”

And once construction gets underway, jeff says it would take just under a month from start to finish. That’s good news for New Bern. “But there’s no reason to wait that long to do something that’s much needed and what the city’s asked us to do,” said Cabaniss.

Construction will begin later this year if approved by the state transportation board this summer.

 

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