Letter – Why now on Grace Street?

Published 7:01 pm Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

The project manager for the Grace Street project notified our office (on Grace Street) on Feb. 8 regarding planned roadwork to begin in June. This may involve, per report, single-lane closures along Grace Street over approximately two months. 

Below are the distilled concerns we have attempted to convey to town leadership on public record that we as a community should consider and be aware of:

  • The bottleneck: We have one exit and only a few avenues to access the exit from west of the Pagan River/Cypress Creek. Grace Street is one of these avenues, and the strain in late afternoon/evening is already substantial without this proposed roadwork.
  • Child care impacts: The YMCA is a key child care provider during the summer, taking upward of 300 kids for summer camp programming. Imagine the evening pickup process when that many families try to get to and depart from the Y on top of the normal evening exit traffic. With child care access already limited within the county, we do not need to create further barriers to access.
  • Safety and emergency response: While exit flow of traffic has improved, the evening rush hour still remains tenuous and, at times, difficult. It is not uncommon for there to be a line of traffic, bumper to bumper, up the avenues that move toward the 258 exit route. So what do we do if someone may be having a stroke? Goes into labor? Has a trauma that requires stabilization and expedient transport? All emergency medical access for downtown and west requires going through this singular route. Even with sirens and lights running, there is only so much that can be done to clear a path at this point, so when time sensitivity comes into play, those making decisions must be cognizant of the consequences, intended or unintended, that may come along with those decisions.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

This matter goes beyond simple inconvenience. No one wants to sit in traffic, and we’re fortunate here as far as what constitutes “bad traffic.” However, it makes no sense when it has been openly acknowledged that the Grace Street project was intended to be done a year ago and has been punted down the road. 

There’s no arguing that the street needs attention, but it is hard to grasp why it must be done now given the changes and challenges we already face secondary to the Cypress Creek bridge work.


Joey Bikkers