Some Smithfield homes and businesses could have a new street name by the end of this year. The NC Department of Transportation has asked the Town of Smithfield to provide them with the new name of the Booker Dairy Road Extension by this November. It doesn’t leave town officials very long to work with impacted property owners to come up with a name agreeable to most people.
“No matter what we do we will likely impact property owners,” Smithfield Planning Director Stephen Wensman told Mayor Andy Moore and members of the Smithfield Town Council during their August monthly meeting.
The Booker Diary Road Extension is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Some of the options include Booker Dairy Road, Ava Gardner Avenue, or M. Durwood Stephenson Highway.
The road corridor is currently named M. Durwood Stephenson Highway from West Market Street (US70) to Buffalo Road. East of Buffalo Road, the name is Booker Dairy Road. The new extension will connect into Ava Gardner Avenue where it intersects with N. Brightleaf Boulevard (US 301).
Wensman reminded council members when considering naming options that wayfinding is very important. For wayfinding, the entire length of the corridor should ideally have a single name, he recommended.
Either way, 7 to 23 homes and businesses would be forced to change street names.
Town staff, who have reviewed the options, recommended the Town Council keep M. Durwood Stephenson Highway unchanged as it is a primary stand-alone Highway with no local access. Booker Dairy Road was eliminated in the staff recommendation because it currently runs both in an east-west and north-south direction and will likely need to be extended north into the “Northern Gateway” area to provide road access.
Wensman said Ava Gardner Avenue appears to be the logical name for the corridor from Buffalo Road to N. Brightleaf Boulevard. The renaming to Ava Gardner Ave. would impact about 19 properties along the existing Booker Dairy Road.
Some of the businesses that would be impacted by a potential street name change from Booker Dairy Road to Ava Gardner Avenue include the State Employees Credit Union, Awakening Church, Neuse Charter School, Grace Community Assembly of God, Smithfield Selma High School and the Smithfield Recreation & Aquatics Center. This is an additional to several residential addresses.
The remnant of Booker Dairy Road could be renamed to Old Booker Dairy Road or Booker Dairy Lane.
Councilman David Barbour suggested possibly doing away with M. Durwood Stephenson Highway and having the entire stretch renamed Ava Gardner Ave. and rename the bridge the Durwood Stephenson Bridge. Wensman, the planning director, said that option could be confusing.
Some board members questioned why Booker Dairy Road could not keep its existing name and the extension simply be called the Booker Dairy Road Extension. The planning director said that could confuse out-of-town motorists not familiar with the streets or signage, and in the event of an police, fire or EMS emergency, someone could easily give the wrong street name.
The town council and mayor agreed a meeting should be held with property owners to gather their input on the future road name. After the meeting, the recommendations of the property owners could be reviewed during a public hearing.
The official naming and renaming will occur when the road extension is completed by the NC DOT.