Greenville City Council passes Evans Street widening project with stipulations

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GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) Greenville City Council passed a motion Thursday night regarding the Evans Street widening project, but the Department of Transportation is unsure they can fulfill certain requests.

The DOT's plans include making Evans Street four lanes from Greenville Boulevard to Cooper Street in Winterville, and adding sidewalks and bike lanes along the corridor

Greenville City Council members passed a motion to move along with the project if the berms along the Shamrock subdivision and wall at the South Hall neighborhoods are preserved.

According to NC DOT, they can not guarantee the berms and wall due to engineering configurations.

Some who were hoping to hear the project was a complete green light left feeling disappointed.

"I'm disappointed, but not disheartened, because there is still opportunity for us to work towards progress in getting the bike lanes in and if it doesn't work on Evans Street, there are other roads we can continue to work on," says Tony Parker, a pedestrian safety advocate.

Construction on the project is still said to begin in 2021.

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With pedestrian safety a big topic of discussion around the city of Greenville, the North Carolina Department of Transportation has plans to widen one busy corridor.

Hundreds of people have signed a petition in favor of developing sidewalks and bike lanes along a busy section of Evans Street, but some residents in the surrounding neighborhoods say the project does not make sense and they believe Greenville taxpayers will be the ones to suffer.

What started as a petition with a single signature now has nearly 500 online supporters.

Tony Parker, who has lived in Greenville for over 40 years says he also went door to door, gathering an additional 200 some odd supporters -- all in favor of making Evans Street four lanes from Greenville Boulevard to Cooper Street in Winterville.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation's plans would also add sidewalks and bike lanes to the corridor.

Parker says, "There are people who do ride bikes, not just for pleasure but to get to work and they are not being seen. By having the built environment to have these people being seen in areas that don't have bike lanes, at least there is an awareness for drivers -- they know there are bikers out there."

But residents who would be impacted by the expansion are not thrilled about what that means for their property.

Mary Snow Hill, President of the Shamrock HOA, says, "Why would you create all of this disruption, mayhem and destruction to a barrier -- to a neighborhood -- for those few people who might ride their bike from Winterville into Greenville. It doesn't make any sense. There are no bike lanes around here whatsoever, where are these bike lanes going to lead?"

Hill says she's not against enhancing pedestrian safety within the city, but says the proposed corridor expansion is a residential area and the current DOT plans will impede on their property and lifestyle. She says the homeowners association has spent nearly $10,000 on the berm along the Shamrock subdivision and she believes priorities on both sides can be accommodated without diminishing what stands.

Several residents who live in the South Hall neighborhood have another petition of their own that is against the DOT's plans.

Both sides plan to speak during the public comment period Thursday evening at the city council meeting.

The project is not finalized but construction is said to begin in 2021.