James City businesses weigh in on NCDOT U.S. 70 improvement project

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JAMES CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – The state’s department of transportation is moving forward with a $327 million roadway project.

The latest design for the U.S. 70 Improvements James City project will affect more than 100 businesses in some manner, like losing property space for right-of-ways.

As of June, 41 businesses in James City will be forced to relocate. Some of those places include Riverside Subaru and Brice’s Creek Bible Church.

Judson K. Howry, a community life pastor at the ministry, says they are waiting on NCDOT to give them an offer on their building. Church leaders know the move will be a hassle, but see the changes as a blessing in disguise.

“So I think it’s an opportunity for us to grow again and taking those next steps of being in the community here,” said Howry.

Brice’s Creek Bible Church is in the midst of moving to a bigger location just a few miles down the road.

As is Riverside Subaru. The dealership has had the same address for about 30 years, but the project is also forcing them to move somewhere else.

Jeff Mooring, general manager at Riverside Subaru said, “We have a great location. We love where we’re at, so we hate losing the spot that we’re in.”

The project has caused the dealership to find a new place to call home. The company is building a facility a couple of miles down the road.

“The good news is we’ll have a new facility, the bad news is we lose a great location,” said Mooring.

The five-mile-long project will start at the Neuse River Bridge and extend to East Thurman Road. It will bring the current roadway to interstate standards.

Street lights will be removed and interchanges will be put in place. Roundabouts are also in the design which will be located at the end of the interstate.

The project manager says plans are not final and minor changes could be made to the designs.

“You definitely have some businesses that we’re still tweaking and trying to… cause ultimately the goal​ is to not relocate businesses so we’re seeing what we can work out,” said Wendi Johnson, project manager at NCDOT.

State transportation officials are in the process of contacting property owners to purchase right-of-way space.

Construction is set to begin Spring 2021 and be completed in 2023.

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JAMES CITY, N.C. (WNCT) – A video from the North Carolina Department of Transportation shows the future of the U.S. 70 in James City.

The five-mile project will extend from East Thurman Road to the Neuse River Bridge.

NCDOT officials say it is part of a larger project to bring U.S. 70 to interstate standards.

Five traffic lights will be removed and replaced with interchanges.

According to their project overview, the design will help benefit military interconnectivity, economic development, and reduce traffic congestion.

“If you go through…the morning time or late afternoon it’s a very very congested area. It’s very hard to get on and off the road,” said Preston Hunter,  NCDOT division engineer.

New Bern resident Jasper Riggs says traffic in the area can be a problem, but the road improvement project will help the situation.

“There are things that need to be done to correct it, cause there are problems and part of the problem is the traffic is the accidents,” said Riggs.

But establishments like Brice’s Creek Bible Church will be impacted. The building will be one of many forced to relocate.

“We have 32 acres thankfully that the Lord has given us…our relocation plan would be to build down there,” said Phil Hamilton, associate pastor of youth and children at Brice’s Creek Bible Church.

Hamilton said the project is a blessing in disguise for the church.

“Despite the headaches, it’s going to be a good thing for everybody.”

But it’s a headache for the owner of B&J Seafood. He says his shop will be overlooked and missed, along with many other businesses in the area.

The project is expected to begin in the summer of 2020.

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