Road projects are a necessary nuisance


Patsy Pridgen


By Patsy Pridgen
Telegram Columnist

Sunday, March 4, 2018

I understand that sometimes situations have to get worse before they get better. But why has the Department of Transportation scheduled bridge building and road-widening projects at the same time on two of the main avenues I use? I feel as though I’m on an obstacle course these days when I head into Rocky Mount.

First there’s the major bridge construction on Sunset Avenue. The project you can’t miss, near Sam’s Club and the exits off Sunset Avenue to U.S. 301. These exits now serve as detours to get back on Sunset Avenue if you live where I do and plan to go downtown to the library or church or the Bulluck sale.

Coming from home, I exit Sunset on U.S. 301 South, stop at the end of what used to be a merge lane, and then wait for the coast to be clear on 301 so that I can enter and immediately cross over two more lanes to make a left-hand turn that will carry me down a side street and dump me back onto Sunset Avenue. Coming from downtown on Sunset heading home is equally harrowing if I take the suggested detour onto U.S. 301 North. This time, there’s no stop sign and merging with traffic while trying to cross over to the turn lane to get back to Sunset Avenue is not for the faint of heart. Someone even had the nerve to blow the horn at me the other day.

I’d started using Hunter Hill Road as my downtown avenue, but roadwork has begun there as well. The worker with the stop/slow sign is on duty, which does make this way a little safer, but then there’s the view. The section of Hunter Hill Road being widened looks like a war zone. Orange barrels are everywhere, and people’s yards are torn up and staked with ominous black mesh stretched between wooden posts. I’m sure it will all look better when it’s finished, but right now it’s a slow go through a maze of heavy equipment and unsightly roadsides.

I remember the never-ending construction on the much-traveled Benvenue Road area beside Golden East Mall when I first returned to Rocky Mount in the early ‘90s. What an ordeal, but then, one day, it was finished and all was smooth sailing. A few years ago, Country Club Road was an under-construction disaster, but those added extra lanes now help traffic move more smoothly. Currently when I go to Planet Fitness, I often turn left, before I hit the havoc on Hunter Hill Road, onto the Thomas A. Betts Highway. I’ve found I enjoy zipping along this fairly new road to the N.C. 43 exit, where I turn right to travel into town.

Like everywhere, Rocky Mount road construction is an inconvenience but, I realize, a necessary one. And if the Department of Transportation wants to do it all at one time, I guess it’s my civic duty to say thank you and add an extra five minutes to my downtown commute. Detours do eventually lead to better roads and bridges, a plus for any city that wants to continue to grow.