The North Carolina Department of Transportation says replacing open turn lanes on the US-70 East business corridor with a median will increase driver safety, but business owners say the median will limit access to their shops.
A 2008 traffic study shows there were 39 crashes within 5 years along the mile stretch of highway. The DOT's median project is estimated to cost about $900,000. The current design shows the first median section starting by the McDonald's at the intersection of 58 South and Highway 70 and ending by the Hampton Inn on Highway 70 near 258. The plan calls for some turn lanes, but many business owners say if people can't make a left-hand turn into their parking lots, they might not come in at all.
"If they put these medians out there, it's just going to... this part of Highway 70 will die. It's just, we'll be dead. I just can't express that enough - it's just, we'll be dead," said Susie Jenkins with the Kinstonian Family Buffet.
The DOT is seeking public comments on the project. They're due March 10th. Once comments are received, Kinston leaders and Lenoir County Transportation Committee members will meet with DOT for a final project design.