Washington City Council votes to halt 15th Street expansion

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Fallout over the Department of Transportation’s plan to widen 15th Street in Washington continued Monday night, as the Washington City Council voted 3-2 not to move forward with the project.

Dozens of people speaking to a packed house at the meeting praised the decision to pump the breaks on 15th Street.

“I feel that this is going to destroy the quaint small town nature not only of 15th Street, but of our town,” one man told City Council.

Others silently protested by raising signs which read things like “vote no to reckless spending”, “please represent us”, and “don’t destroy our neighborhood”.

“It is drastic in multiple ways you know just in the cost as far as money goes, the cost to people and the cost to businesses,” said Mayor Pro Tem Virginia Finnerty.

Many people opposed the project because they say it would have hurt local businesses, but it also would have impacted people living nearby like Linda Witchell.

“They’re going to harden all this surface. Every time you harden the surface, where does the water go? The water goes downhill. We are as downhill as it gets. This is the bottom of the bowl that is Washington,” Witchell said.

Her yard floods even with just a heavy rain and she says the widening project would have made it even worse.

“How’s that water going to get over to Jack’s Creek from 15th Street without coming through my property and potentially through the inside of my house?” Witchell said.

Many people agree something needs to be done to reduce the number of accidents along that corridor. Some even suggested a plan which doesn’t expand the road to 4 lanes, yet DOT says there’s simply too much traffic for a 2-lane road.

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