Evans Street road widening gets the OK from council

Published: Feb. 23, 2017 at 9:15 PM EST
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A multi-million dollar road-widening project that was put on hold after a city council voted it down, officially received the green light Monday night.

Greenville City Council members voted to pass the continuance of the previously halted $35 million Evans Street widening project between Greenville Boulevard and Fire Tower Road.

NCDOT project development engineer Bill Kincannon presented two alternative proposals during the city council meeting after the original proposal drew uncertainty and debate from homeowners in the area.

The proposal passed includes the expansion of Evans Street from two lanes to four lanes, with two five foot bicycle lanes on each side of the road.

Kincannon says the new proposal also includes barriers to protect vegetation, as well as a reduced impact on underground utilities.

The project is slated to begin in 2021--Mayor Allen Thomas says it could potentially start as early as 2020.

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A proposal to widen a portion of a busy road in one city in the east is now on hold.

The Evans Street/Old Tar Road widening project, from Greenville Boulevard to Winterville, has to go through some residential areas of Greenville.

The state owns the road, but some residents could see land acquired up to their backyards.

That is the reason Greenville City's Council voted on a resolution asking the NC DOT to guarantee nothing would impact those communities, but the DOT announced that would make the project virtually impossible.

"This is probably what I consider the worst street to bike or walk in Greenville," says Tim Brogan, referring to Evans Street.

For Brogan, riding his bike is his only means of transportation between Greenville and where he lives off County Home Road.

"This town definitely needs bike lanes and crosswalks, there's not much respect shown for bikers or pedestrians in this town," he says.

The plan was to widen a particular stretch of Evans Street from two lanes to four lanes, with a raised median and include bike lanes and sidewalks, but now it's on hold by the DOT.

"And it looks as if they're stopping this project, but that's not the case, they've more or less found that the city had different thoughts on this project and they've halted it temporarily," explains Council Member PJ Connelly.

City Council drafted a resolution earlier this month asking the DOT to guarantee they could widen the road without impacting areas like Shamrock, Paramore and South Hall subdivisions.

The DOT wrote the council saying it's not realistic.

"When an engineer stands in front of you and tells you what's possible, you can't change what's possible just by voting," explains Council Member Rick Smiley.

Smiley and Councilman Calvin Mercer voted against the council's resolution.

"It felt like the council was abandoning the idea of feasibility and realism," Smiley says.

Connelly says they believe there's is a solution and compromise, but they need more time to plan for it. "We want this project to take place, we just want to be smart, you know?"

The DOT engineers tells WITN that if they had to remove walls, they would replace them. We're told they hope to reach an agreement so they can move forward.

The plan would be to start construction in the next four years.