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Roundabout installation has mixed reactions in Emerald Isle

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EMERALD ISLE, Carteret County - A traffic change in Emerald Isle has the green light but some residents in Emerald Isle want to pump the brakes on it.

A roundabout is a result of the new Publix being built in Emerald Isle. Charlie and Debby Mallette have lived in Emerald Isle for the past 17 years. They said they've seen a lot of changes in that time and now have concerns about the newest one -- a roundabout on Emerald Drive and Mallard Drive.

"We're concerned about the traffic, we're concerned about the flow of traffic and the fact that this roundabout is going to be in a hurricane evacuation area, so we're concerned how that will work, first responders, how will they get through?" said Debby Mallette.

They are not the only ones with concerns. Many who are part of the Facebook group "Emerald Isle, N.C. Stay the Same" gathered at the roundabout location last Friday to express their concern and to get more answers about the project.

"We already get a sense that we are trying to grow up too fast and all and we're trying to be a Myrtle Beach," Charlie Mallette said. "And folks that are here locally and folks that are visiting have expressed desire, they don't want that. They like the old town charm."

The plans for the roundabout have been carefully thought out, according to town manager Frank Rush. He said after several studies, the N.C. Department of Transportation is actually recommending even more roundabouts for the town if this works out well.

"It would give our community the opportunity to become familiar with roundabouts and really gauge their effectiveness for the other four locations DOT has recommended," Rush said.

Despite the pushback, there are residents who are looking forward to the change, believing it will help the twon grow while still keeping its charm.

"The three options are widen the road to five lanes, which we don't want because that would take away from the character of the town or we could put another stoplight, which I don't really want because you know you would have to sit there at a red light for 60 seconds," said Bill Fathauer, manager of Goose Creek Growler Company. "The third option is a roundabout, which seems to be the best option because traffic just kind of keeps moving. I'm willing to give it a chance."

Work on the roundabout is expected to begin Nov. 13 and a detour will go into effect during the construction. The work is expected to be completed by February. The new Publix is expected to be completed in the spring of 2018.

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