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Earthquake? Sonic boom? Seneca guns? Nope, just Smith Avenue

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

My office is violently shaking while I write this. 

If I weren’t so accustomed to it, I may worry it were an earthquake. 

If I weren’t so used to it, I may wonder if some jet just left a sonic boom in its wake.

If I weren’t so familiar with my monitor shaking while I read and write, I might be more interested in trying to find out exactly what the Seneca guns are and why they fire so frequently in Brunswick County.

But really, I know the motion of my desk and all things on it can be explained—it’s construction on Smith Avenue.

Still.

It never ends.

When the project began in July 2009, my first concern was just how close the new expanded lanes were going to come to my office window. The Beacon had to root up its sign and some trees to make way for the changes. I frequently craned my neck to look out and make sure there was still a parking lot buffer between the soon-to-be-busier thoroughfare and my desk.

I really wasn’t interested in having a drive-through news delivery service here at work.

In the now almost two years this project has been under way, I’ve watched it progress right here from my seat. I’ve seen a lot of changes, albeit very, very slow ones.

I was tickled one afternoon when a sudden rainstorm caught workers by surprise and they took shelter inside a large concrete pipe until it passed. But most feelings about the project have been those of frustration, not amusement.

I’ve seen people drive past the office on new, unmarked pavement—not actual lanes—to get to the doctor’s office next door.

I’ve watched workers wave their hands around, sending traffic this way and that while flashing their “slow” and “stop” signs.

I had a worker yell at me and slam his hat against a sign one afternoon because I let a patient driver pull out from the post office in front of me in traffic.

“I direct traffic here, not you!” he bellowed.

So much for being nice; somehow I managed to keep all my fingers wrapped around the steering wheel.

My car has vibrated over uneven pavement and rocky roads; and I’ve cussed more times than I care to count at the light at the corner of Smith Avenue and Main Street that never seems to change—even at midnight when I’m the only car on the road.

The Smith Avenue extension is such a headache, I finally opted to take a longer route to work just so I don’t have to come down Main Street and wade through the mess.

I’ve learned to use back routes through White Street and other roads to get just a few blocks downtown.

I’m tired of it and so are a lot of Brunswick Countians.

Last week’s story in the Beacon indicated the project isn’t expected to be completely finished until May 31. If, by chance, it actually gets finished at all.

Apparently those leading the project have never been in downtown Shallotte at any time between Easter and Labor Day. Even when traffic is flowing “normally” it’s at a standstill during the tourist season. 

Everybody wants to get to the superstore. They’re going to be some angry visitors when they have to maneuver the orange barrels and stopped traffic to get there this season.

If Shallotte had more sidewalks, it may just be better to walk. We’d all get where we are going much faster.

Until then, I’ll keep on working—vibrating desk and shaking keyboard—and hope some day, it will all be done.