CLAYTON — The widening of N.C. 42 from U.S. 70 Business to Glen Laurel Road continues. But already, a permanent change in traffic pattern is in place.
This past week, work began on a raised median on N.C. 42 that will stretch from U.S. 70 Business to just before the intersection with old N.C. 42. That means eastbound traffic on N.C. 42 will not be able to turn left into the Wilco-Hess gas station, East Clayton Shopping Center and Guy C. Lee Building Materials.
To reach these businesses:
• Passenger vehicles will continue straight and make a U-turn at the light at Old N.C. 42.
• Large trucks will continue straight and use the new truck turn-around located just past the light at Old N.C. 42.
Business owners in the shopping center are angry, fearing the median will hurt their bottom lines.
Sherri Crumpler, owner of A Cut Above hair salon, said the median is a bad idea. “It’s going to back up traffic because people will be waiting to take a U-turn at the light, and that’s going to cause wrecks,” she said.
“It’ll also cause a bottleneck of traffic by Glen Laurel.”
Already, Crumpler said, some clients are saying they don’t feel safe coming to the shop.
“Our senior citizens who come in here are very concerned,” she said. “There’s going to be delivery trucks turning around at that light, and it’s not safe,” she said.
Vehicles leaving from the Wilco-Hess, East Clayton Shopping Center and Guy C. Lee will not be able to turn left to travel east on N.C. 42. Instead, motorists will turn right and then make a U-turn at the light at U.S. 70 Business. Or they will have to drive behind the Wilco-Hess to reach Old N.C. 42.
Crumpler, who has been at her salon for nine years, said the road construction has already hurt her business. “We’ve had less walk-ins, and we are worried about our business and how it’s going to affect our customers’ well-being,” she said.
Debbie Earp, owner of Purses Unlimited, said she’s ready for the construction to be over. “Once it’s done, I think business may be better,” she said.
Earp has been in East Clayton Shopping Center for 18 months. In that time, she has established a loyal customer base, but the median is going to hurt her walk-ins, she predicted.
As part of the construction project, traffic on N.C. 42 shifted this week to the outside lane of each direction so crews could work on the inside lanes.
All work is scheduled to be completed and the road open to traffic in late October or early November.
Widening the two-lane road to four lanes is designed to relieve congestion for the 22,000 vehicles using the commuter route daily. The traffic count is up from 20,000 in 2008.
The N.C. Department of Transportation awarded the $5.9 million contract in April 2012; this year’s heavy rains slowed completion.
The project includes a crossover with signal at the entrance to Caterpillar.