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The constant bemoaning of never-ending road construction

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

Ahh, my endless tirade…

Since the construction on Smith Avenue and Main Street doesn’t seem it’s ever going to end, why should complaining about it?

I can’t resolve the situation or hurry it along or improve what I think is a horrific traffic pattern. Since I can’t, I’ll join plenty of others of bemoaning the project as it crawls along.

Last week an NCDOT official asked residents to be patient in hopes the project will be worth the wait when finished. 

Well, I don’t know where he’ll be when it’s finished, but I think I’m still going to be driving around in circles trying to figure out how to get back to work.

Here’s a strange tidbit about me. I really like going to stores like Walgreens and CVS. When I feel depressed or stressed, you can usually find me at a store like that. I’m not sure why, but it seems everything can be fixed with a new hairclip or brush or tube of mascara.

It seems, however, designers for the Smith Avenue project either want me forlorn and melancholy forever or they’re trying to be good stewards of my bank account.

Or neither.

I spend a lot of time here at the Beacon. I’m usually in the office at least six of seven days each week and several nights. Most places I go start or end at the Beacon office on Smith Avenue.

Several times a week you can find me at Walgreens. It used to be simple enough: head down Smith Avenue, hang a right onto Main Street and then make a quick left into the parking lot. To get back to work, just drive the same route in the opposite order.

Things got messy when construction changed the traffic flow on Main Street. No more left turns from Main Street to Walgreens. But, hey, that was OK because I was patient and learned there was a great new entrance straight down Smith Avenue.

Getting out of the store remained a challenge, however. Even though a right-hand turn is allowed out of the parking lot onto Main Street, it’s a gamble for your life to try to cross the two new straight-through lanes to get over to the left-hand turn lane at the light to go back to Smith Avenue.

Sound confusing reading it? Try to drive it.

But patience, as NCDOT wants me to have, won out when I discovered that handy dandy new entrance also made a nice, safer exit out of Walgreens straight onto Smith Avenue.

Apparently though, I was patient too long this time. Now there is a no left turn sign at that entrance/exit. 

So how do I safely get out of Walgreens and back to Smith Avenue?

I guess I’ll be more patient and see, but I hope I don’t run out of gas because it’s just as hard to get in and out of Family Fare on Main Street.

A few days ago, I decided running the gauntlet at Walgreens wasn’t worth it, so I made a nice left turn at the stop light at Smith Avenue and Main Street and then took a comfortable right-hand turn into the CVS parking lot. I was about to breathe easier, right until I decided to leave and go back to work.

You can’t exit out of that same Main Street exit and go left back toward Smith Avenue. You have two choices—go right or left on N.C. 130. Left takes you back toward Main Street, but if you’ve ever come through that area at any time of day, you know you’re playing a real live game of Frogger getting across and into traffic. 

Will some of that lighten up when the rest of the road opens and routes some traffic off that portion of N.C. 130? Likely, but come on, what’s right there at that intersection? Walmart—the store every resident and tourist has a reason to visit.

The other option is to hang a right onto N.C. 130 and drive a big d@*n circle back around to Smith Avenue. Right now, that includes going through the Shallotte Crossing Shopping Center in front of Home Depot. 

How I’ll go right out of CVS and eventually back to Smith Avenue when this project is finished has me baffled. Will I have to drive farther down N.C. 130 to the new interchange? 

Maybe I’ll just play chicken with the other cars heading toward Main Street. If I get hurt, at least bandages are close by at the pharmacy.

Oh, and if you’re patronizing any businesses in Shallotte Crossing, whatever you do, don’t forget you can’t get out of the shopping center the old way. 

Not too long ago I met a friend for lunch at Chili’s. Afterward, I made a left out of the Chili’s parking lot by habit. I was all the way down by BB&T before I realized where I was. 

How I forgot was beyond me because I made the same mistake going there from Smith Avenue and had to trek all the way over by Subway and back down before I got to Chili’s.

My options when I realized where I was on the way back to the office? Hang a right into the BB&T parking lot, go out BB&T’s “new” entrance/exit, hang a one-way right onto Main Street, shuffle around to N.C. 130, hang another right and then drive back down to take a right into the shopping center, in front of Home Depot, over by Subway, and around the sharp curve to go back down Smith Avenue.

Patience? 

I lost that a long time ago.

Dizzy? 

Thanks, NCDOT, I’m getting accustomed to that.