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Commuting concerns delay DMV relocation

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BY AMELIA HARPER AND LINDELL KAY
Staff Writers

Sunday, February 17, 2019

While it’s nothing new, workers commuting to the area has come into focus as a state agency eyes possible relocation to Rocky Mount.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles is looking for a new home, being forced to soon vacate its asbestos-laden building in downtown Raleigh. The DMV may move to Rocky Mount as a property in the city is the lowest bidder for a new headquarters.

Slowing the move, some DMV employees are balking at the idea of driving a long distance to work. Nicole Hunter, a 10-year employee with the state DMV, lives in Raleigh. A commute would take away from family time and cost more in gas, Hunter said last week to the state House Appropriations Committee for Transportation.

“It’s a severe economic impact on those of us who are doing what we’re supposed to do, which is taking care of community and family,” Hunter told the committee.

But commuting is a way of life for many Rocky Mount residents, according to 2015 data supplied by the U.S. Census Bureau, the most recent information available. The data shows that roughly 25,000 workers employed in greater Rocky Mount actually live outside the area. Another roughly 27,500 live in the Rocky Mount area, but are employed outside the zone. This compares to the roughly 32,000 workers who both live and work in the area.

About 100 DMV staffers, roughly 25 percent of the affected employees, could qualify for financial assistance to move to Rocky Mount since their homes are 50 miles or more away, according to the state Department of Transportation. That’s more help than most commuters in the area get. And relocating to Rocky Mount would save them much more than gas money.

"The cost of living is 60 cents on the dollar of what it is in Raleigh," said Jay Hooks, lead broker at Moorefield Real Estate, who has sold between 60 and 100 homes a year for the past decade.

Rocky Mount, within a short drive to the Outer Banks one way and the mountains the other, is a great place live with its sense of easy living intact. Rocky Mount has museums and parks, which contribute to quality of life, Hooks said.

"Rocky Mount is at the crossroads of Interstate 95 running north and south and U.S. 64 running east and west," Hooks said.

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