Last week’s debate over a hotel in Zebulon raises questions about just how much traffic is too much.
Town leaders unquestionably understand that growth in Zebulon is moving north and they realize the bottleneck that is the intersection of Arendell Avenue and Pearces Road.
The town, a few years ago, created a corridor plan for NC 96, north of U.S. 64 and extending through the intersection at Pearces Road.
That plan calls for the widening of Arendell Avenue and much of that work has been done. The addition of a turn lane onto Pearces Road from Arendell Avenue makes the flow of traffic heading out of town much better.
But the plan doesn’r really impact traffic coming into Zebulon from Pearces Road. As development takes place in that area, traffic continues to increase.
Now comes the idea of erecting a hotel close to that interesection. Motorists accesing that hotel will travel along both Arendell Avenue and Pearces Road.
The added traffic concerns residents and that makes sense. Developers say their project won’t create that much additional traffic – 22.8 cars on average each day. Common sense dictates that number seems a trifle low for a 40-unit hotel. If one assumes two people will work at the hotel each day, that accounts for four trips – two coming and two going. That means on average, hotel guests would account for the other 18 trips. That equates to less than a 50 percent occupancy rate at the hotel, a figure we suspect hotel owners would frown at. And those calculations don’t take into account any delivery vehicles or service vehicles that may travel to the hotel from time to time.
The other side of the debate is that a hotel is an unmet need in Zebulon. It gives people an opportunity to come to our town and stay for more than just a few hours. Businesses that recieve guests and visitors could have a place to stay that is both convenient and affordable. It can also logically be argued that turning away any economic development intitiative is bad governance right now.
The debate remains unsettled. Zebulon commissioners will decide on the request at their Aug. 4 meeting.
All the talk and the public debate it has engendered raise another question in our minds.
As growth takes place to Zebulon’s north, the intersection of Pearces Road and Arendell Avenue will become even more critical. But the town has no long range vision for how that intersection will best serve the area. Now seems like a good time to take a more holistic view of the entire area with an eye toward making sure the public infrastructure is sufficient to meet the needs of a growing area.