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Concerned business owners along N.C. 130 did the right thing.
Worried their businesses were going to suffer because of a change in traffic flow near their locations, merchants rallied together and went before the Shallotte Board of Aldermen.
The road project at the heart of this controversy had been many years in the planning and work stages. When it was finished, it redirected the main flow of traffic away from the Main Street and N.C. 130 intersection near Walmart behind Shallotte Commons Shopping Center and back onto Main Street and Smith Avenue.
When the new road opened, a few small business owners on N.C. 130 said they were cut off from the very customers they needed to stay afloat. These merchants formed the North Shallotte Business Members Association and began a petition drive to encourage the town of Shallotte to intercede on their behalf.
The board of aldermen listened, and after a few meetings agreed to call upon the North Carolina Department of Transportation to do a feasibility study. The study was to determine if it would be viable to redirect traffic flow through the area that had been cut off by the extension project.
Recently, the board received survey results and found out NCDOT doesn’t think it would be a good idea to reroute traffic back through the area.
If that were to happen, NCDOT officials believe Shallotte would experience the same traffic congestion and flow problems it had before the Smith Avenue changes.
We understand this is disappointing news for those business owners. As an editorial board, we expressed many concerns about the design and the impact this project would have on downtown Shallotte and businesses. We worried the inaccessibility caused by the new route would hurt local businesses. It appears, by these merchants’ assertions, that is what happened.
However, after hearing survey results, we agree with the town of Shallotte and NCDOT. Now is not the time to rework traffic flow in this area.
One tourist season has come and gone with the new traffic pattern, and a new season is now under way. Instead of expending taxpayer dollars on sending traffic right back to where it was rerouted, money would be better spent by ensuring the state and town have adequate signage that directs people to key areas within our community.
And as they demonstrated earlier, merchants should continue to work together as a team, finding creative ways to promote and advertise their businesses while looking to retain customers who rely on and want their services.