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Roundabout opponents plant their opinion on the roadside

Businesses and residents along U.S. 64 are increasing the visibility of their opposition to a widening plan that includes a divided highway with roundabouts.

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Before it was pulled from the council’s agenda, the council was scheduled to take up an application for the Arcadia Views development on U.S. 64 across from Hunters Crossing. The developer asked the council to table the application to give engineers more time to study an NCDOT traffic study, said Town Manager Alison Alexander.
The Town Council voted earlier this year to endorse the NCDOT plan after engineers made changes the council sought.
“There’s nothing for the council to do,” Alexander said. “Oct. 26 was the deadline for comment to the DOT.”
A large crowd was expected at Tuesday’s meeting for the Arcadia project and the U.S. 64 widening.
“People are conflating those two projects but they’re really not related,” Alexander said.
New signs popped up over the weekend declaring opposition to the U.S. 64 project from Blythe Street to White Pine Drive. The NCDOT has proposed a highway improvement that includes a two-lane divided roadway with a 17½ grassy median, 12-foot travel lanes, 5-foot bike lanes and 5-foot sidewalks. As designed, the project would add roundabouts at Glasgow Lane, Pisgah Drive and White Pine Drive. U.S. 64 through Laurel Park carries 13,000 to 16,000 vehicles per day now and will grow to 16,300 to 19,600 by 2040, the NCDOT says, raising the need for upgrades to improve traffic flow.
The project, like three others in the pipeline around the county, has provoked strong opposition. Laurel Park businesses and homeowners in the immediate area oppose the roundabouts and the divided highway and are asking instead for a center turn lane.
Dozens of yellow-and-black signs that say “3 Lanes, NOT Roundabouts” line the road.
The Laurel Park Town Council meets at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. The council moved the meeting to the First Congregational Church because, before the Arcadia Views rezoning case was pulled, it expected a large crowd. 

“We recognize the need for improvements to the road but we’re disappointed at the impact it would have on our property,” said Bill McKibbin, owner of Henderson Oil, which operates an Energy Mart store in the path of the U.S. 64 widening. “We would lose the gas pumps. It’s a gas station-convenience store so we would have to look for some other use for the property.”
McKibbin said he had been in contact with Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch about changes that might spare the property.
Laura Gourlay, the property manager for the Laurel Park Village Shopping Center, said the owners are closely following the issue and have attended several meetings on it. She provided a statement from the owners.
“The owners of the Laurel Park Village Shopping Center support a DOT plan that takes into consideration the concerns of Laurel Park residents and ensures that the ingress and egress to the shopping center is most importantly safe and efficient for both tenants and shoppers,” it said.
Dixie Diner owner Vickie Olek said she would have to shut down the business because the widening would take her parking lot.