KINSTON, LENOIR COUNTY- - US-70 West in Kinston is under construction as a part of a project first proposed 15 years ago.
The current US-70 route is relatively straight. The objective of the project is to create what officials call a "bell shape". It will also have a loop near the town line. The purpose of the new route is to expand opportunity for businesses.
Mark Pope, Lenoir County Economic Development Executive Director, says they want to be "business friendly. We wanna protect our residents and our population, but we also wanna grow businesses." Lenoir County At-Large Commissioner Reuben Davis said he thinks the project could "be a tremendous economic boost for eastern North Carolina."
Officials say the biggest transition will be helping drivers learn the new route. They've been working closely with the Department of Transportation to ensure that proper signage is in place.
"It'll be some growing pains," said Pope, "but the overall essence it'll be a positive." Davis said, "We like those growing pains. Especially for a good industry we've been very blessed."
This construction is directed at a larger-scale project, which would create a loop between Kinston, Greenville, Goldsboro and Wilson. Officials say if the loop is completed, the potential for economic growth inside it would be substantial.
US-70 West is down to one lane. The new, bell-shaped route will begin by adding one westbound lane, followed by another. The eastbound lanes will follow, also one by one.
The current US-70 route will be used as an access road for the businesses located along it and will end in a cul-de-sac.