LUMBERTON — An innovative plan to reconfigure Interstate 95’s Exit 19 at Carthage Road was unveiled Tuesday before a large group of concerned homeowners, businesses and interested residents.
The bridge replacement and exit work will cost $13.5 million and is expected to begin in 2020. The project will shut down the exit for as long as two years.
Plans include the installation of roundabouts on both sides of the interstate and making changes to the service roads, Capuano Street on the city side and Lackey Street across the bridge.
The Department of Transportation and Michael Baker International, the project contractor, played host to the event at Bill Sapp Recreation Center that was attended by more than 50 people. Three thousand postcards with information about the public meeting were mailed to residents and businesses with property near the exit.
The changes are significant but should not affect homeowners, except during construction. The same cannot be said for the businesses currently located at the exit.
Buddy Patel, who owns the BP service station and convenience store at the exit, said it should not affect his business, except during construction.
“Our entrance will be open,” Patel said.
He said he would survive the exit closing.
However, one of Patel’s business associates said the two motels on Lackey Street will be out of business.
The Lackey Street service road will be rerouted behind the Motel 6 and Knights Inn. The associate pointed on the map to the empty farm field on the other side of the road.
“Gold mine,” he said.
Changes to Capuano Street will not affect the Red Carpet Inn but will take the parking lot away from the El Zarape De Antonio Mexican restaurant.
Betty Locklear lives on Elba Street, in the North Lumberton neighborhood street closest to I-95.
“We have a few concerns because construction is so close to our home,” Locklear said. “We wanted to make sure our homes will be livable, with access in and out.”
Jim Kirkland is a member of Lumberton Lions Club, whose members meet in a building at Carthage Road and I-95. He came to find out how the plans will change access to the building.
“We won’t be able to make a left turn at the entrance,” Kirkland said. “We’ll have to get on the roundabout and turn right off of it.”
Kirkland said it would not be a problem for the civic club, but it may be a problem during elections because the Lions Club is a city polling place.
The Exit 19 project also will take a small piece of the city’s P.C. Brooks Playlot, but N.C. Department of Transportation officials said it should not affect activities there.
City officials joined about a dozen contractor employees and state DOT officials to discuss the project in front of large wall maps. County Engineer Chuck Miller said public events such Tuesday’s public meeting are standard operating procedure.
“I am surprised by the turnout,” Miller said.
Some residents of the Carthage Road area questioned the need for roundabouts and the design of Exit 22, which Miller said is called a “diverging diamond” design.
There will be four roundabouts on Carthage Road within about three miles. One in the downtown Lumberton and another at Pine Log Road already are complete.
The project will replace the oldest I-95 bridge in Lumberton, and Exit 19 is the last Lumberton exit to be upgraded. The bridge will be rebuilt taller and longer than to accommodate the eventual upgrade of the interstate to six lanes.
The city has plans to make Carthage Road the gateway to downtown Lumberton, City Manager Wayne Horne said. No date has been established for that project.
With the design in place, environmental planning will begin this fall. Right-of-way acquisition will begin in early 2019. The cost to acquire rights-of-way is expected to be $540,000.