POLLOCKSVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – As the east grows, more and more cars travel the roads every day.
For some in Jones County, that means heavy traffic right down main street in their once sleepy towns.
As a waitress, Christine Phillips sees plenty of traffic in and out of Trent Family Restaurant in Pollocksville getting a bite to eat. And there’s lots of traffic outside the restaurant, too.
According to NCDOT, 10,600 cars a day travel the stretch of US 17 between Jacksonville and New Bern. That includes going right through the heart of small towns like Pollocksville and Maysville.
A project is underway to take a lot of that traffic out of those towns.
“Sixteen miles, 25 bridges,” explained Brad McMannen, NCDOT resident engineer. “And speed limits will range from 60 miles an hour to 70 miles an hour.”
It’s a $143-million project that’ll upgrade that stretch of US 17 to four lanes, completely bypassing Maysville and Pollocksville.
“Construction started in October of last year,” said McMannen. “[The] Contractor is currently building roadway, kind of in two sections. One section is between Belgrade and Maysville on new alignment. And the other section everybody can see is between, just north of Maysville on the existing 17.”
But not only will the finished product ease traffic in those Jones County towns, it will also make a safer drive for everyone along that section of Highway 17.
“A lot of that section is just two lanes with the double yellow lines in the median,” explained McMannen. “Basically with the high speeds, the amount of traffic, it’s very dangerous. [There’s} A lot of head on collisions. The biggest part is putting four lanes and getting that divided median, separating the two directions of traffic.”
The work isn’t expected to be done until 2020. And Christine can’t wait to see how it affects her daily commute from Swansboro.
“I hope [it will be] better,” said Christine Phillips, Trent Family Restaurant waitress. “I won’t be behind somebody that don’t move. Because I won’t pass. So hopefully it will be better for me.”
Less traffic through small towns and a safer drive both sound like good things. But some in Pollocksville and Maysville are concerned about the effect the bypass will have on business in their towns.
9 On Your Side will take a closer look Tuesday on Growing The East.