The hazards and the future of NC Highway 33

Published 8:13 am Wednesday, April 3, 2024

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Greenville has slowly been creeping towards Beaufort County along NC Highway 33.  There are several new housing developments and Walmart and Lowes are already there.  More is coming; the creep to Beaufort County will continue. 

Highway construction on Highway 33 also slowly creeps forward as there are budget restraints limiting road construction.  Housing development has already passed the end of the four-lane.  How far the build-up will go, I don’t know.  I do know it will continue and there is also the possibility of development on the Chocowinity side of Highway 33.

Why they didn’t widen Highway 33 all the way to Grimesland, I don’t have a clue.  The five-mile portion between the four-lane and Grimesland is extremely unsafe.  I have seen several drivers pass in unsafe areas and just miss hitting another vehicle.  There are few places to pass and blind spots to make passing difficult and unsafe.

Traffic on the road can be heavy during the rush hours and there are often slow vehicles on the road.  The trip to Greenville can be extremely slow.  To me, it’s a heavily traveled road.

Traffic between Chocowinity and Grimesland is lighter because Grimesland Road feeds traffic into Grimesland resulting in increased traffic between Grimesland and Greenville.

The traffic between Grimesland and the four-lane will continue to grow until it becomes unbearable.  This could happen in a few years.  At that point, there will be more pressure to four-lane the road all the way to the bridge.  It is listed on the State Transportation Improvement Plan but is not funded.

What about the new bridge?  According to the Department of Transportation, the 84-year-old bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad was functionally obsolete requiring more maintenance and nearing the end of its useful life.

Conti Civil LLC is the contractor for the new bridge.  If you look at the statement of Conti Civil on the Internet, it says;

“Bridge No. 87 is located on NC 33 over Norfolk Southern Railway, in Pitt County.  NC 33 is the main route from Grimesland to Greenville with a high amount of truck traffic and school buses.”

In other words, we should be concerned about traffic between the four-lane and Grimesland bridge. 

The new bridge being constructed has two 12-foot lanes and 4-foot shoulders.  The old bridge is 32.7 feet wide and has two lanes.  

There will also be growth between Chocowinity and Grimesland, and around Chocowinity.  More housing will be built on the eastern side of Highway 33 and new industry may be located in the Chocowinity Industrial Park.

Building a two-lane bridge basically says, there won’t be much growth between Chocowinity and Grimesland.  I believe this is short sighted.  A four-lane bridge will eventually be needed.

I understand why they are building a two-lane bridge.  I do not understand why they didn’t four-lane Highway 33 to Grimesland at the same time.  

I’m hoping someday that there will be a four-lane NC Highway 33 all the way from Chocowinity to Greenville.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and a former Beaufort County Commissioner.