Growing the Gridlock: Construction plans to eliminate commuter hassle

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – As Eastern North Carolina continues to grow, many cities are experiencing congestion on the roadways, as the main arteries in the cities aren’t able to handle the influx of cars.

It’s a problem that continues to get worse, especially in Greenville.

“It just seems like there’s a lot more traffic than there used to be 12 years ago,” said Greenville resident Marykay Furimsky.

“We expect the population in Greenville itself to be over 100,000 citizens by 2020,” said Mayor Allen Thomas. “And that is a tremendous amount of people.”

That’s creating the need for projects to alleviate road congestion and break the gridlock.

Greenville Public Works Director Kevin Mulligan oversees the main current and future projects aimed at improving the roadways in the city.

“What leads to a lot of congestion right now is sort of the preparation for this congestion,” said Mulligan. “We have 10th Street Connector under construction, Dickinson is under construction right now, there’s a lot of roads either in design or under construction.”

Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas said there has to be a coordinated plan in order for Greenville to keep growing.

Part of the plan includes the creation of the Southwest Bypass, which will run from US-264 to two miles south of Ayden.
With a 70 MPH speed limit, drivers can get from Greenville to Ayden much faster.

“Basically the biggest change everybody is going to see on the south side,” said John Rouse, Division Engineer for NCDOT. “Where you are in Ayden right now to Vidant Medical Center will take you approximately 12 minutes to drive. It’s more than double that because of the congestion.”

A few miles down the road from the Southwest Bypass is the 10th Street Connector overpass, towering over Dickinson Avenue.

“The 10th Street Connector is what we consider a corridor connection, where as it’s going to move large amounts of traffic from one part of the city to completely to the other side without disrupting smaller neighborhoods and smaller retail along the way,” said Mayor Allen Thomas.

Greenville’s future GTAC, an eight million dollar inter-modal facility, is another part of the plan. It’s focused on implementing additional public transportation – including buses.

“That’s one vehicle that can bring 50 people to a destination as opposed to 50 vehicles,” said Mulligan. “The more transportation methods we can provide out there for bicycles, pedestrians, runners, whatever it is, that helps with our congestion in the Uptown area.”

“If people think traffic is difficult now, imagine the city with another 20 to 25 thousand people,” said Mayor Allen Thomas. “And without these great roadways, with the 10th Street Connector, the Southwest Bypass, and the other infrastructure that we’re bringing in place now that I know of, to be able to continue to grow in a healthy way.”

The new roads, traffic lights, and signs point toward the city’s future.

“Here in Greenville we like to say ‘pardon our construction, this is the sign of progress,'” said Mayor Allen Thomas. “And while this is temporary, we know in the future, these will be great corridors that will help this city have a strong foundation going forward.”

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