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Winston Road Widening: Lexington Leaders Vote 'Yes' To Support NCDOT Plan

Plans are in the works to widen Winston Road, also known as N.C. Highway 8. The project will likely force many established businesses to relocate.

LEXINGTON, N.C. - It's only a half mile stretch of road, but it's causing a lot of controversy.

Plans are in the works to widen Winston Road, also known as N.C. Highway 8. The project will likely force many established businesses to relocate.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation presented two design options to the public last month. One proposal would force many businesses to move, and the other would impact fewer businesses. On Tuesday night, the Lexington City Council voted unanimously to support the second option.

But regardless of which plan is ultimately chosen by state engineers, businesses like Hayes Jewelers, built back in 1939, will feel the sting.

PREVIOUS: Petition Started To Keep Longtime Businesses From Having To Move For Road Work

“It’s an old establishment that's been here many years, and everybody know where it's at,” said Bruce Hayes, the owner.

Outside its doors, there's no doubt traffic and the problems that come with it have grown. But, Hayes is skeptical of the current widening plan.

“There’s a lot of traffic on this road, coming from Winston-Salem,” he said, “But if anybody would come and just take a look on the other side of the road, there's nothing there...all they got to do is go up that side of the road – and [on the other] side there's a lot of businesses.”

While businesses mostly line the east side of Winston Road, the west side cuts into a historic mill district. On Tuesday, city council voted on a plan to widen both sides, but less on the historic side.

“It goes from 9th Street North to Biesecker Road,” said Brett Abernathy, an engineer with the state DOT’s Division 9, “This road does need to be widened. The typical section that we are looking at widening to is a four-lane with a median.”

For restaurants on this strip like Speedy's Barbecue, the uncertain future is hard to stomach.

“We don't really know. And I think that's the most scary part of it all, we don't truthfully know right yet to what extent they are going to widen the road,” said manager Robbie Johnson, “We have roughly 35 employees. So, if they did wind up taking enough of the building, to close us down, we are looking at 35 people without a job.”

Stakeholders will meet with NCDOT and City leaders to talk about concerns and ask questions on Thursday. Engineers say they will hold a follow-up meeting before the widening plan is set in stone.

The state plans to start taking land for construction next spring, and they'll begin construction in summer 2020.

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