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Concerns grow over Winston Road widening project in Lexington

LEXINGTON, N.C. -- Winston Road in Lexington during rush hour is one busy road to travel on.

For Bruce Hayes, one of the busiest roads in the city is where he lives and makes a living.

“All of a sudden they are taking it away from us and in fact, I live upstairs you know,” he said.

Downstairs is his family's business, Hayes Jewelers. The business has been located on the corner of Ninth Street and Winston Road since 1939.

“I remember that when I was little kid because whenever they were laying the blocks on this building I was over there picking them up and carrying them,” Hayes said.

In the past couple of months, Hayes and his family have been faced with an uncertain future there.

In a couple of years, work will start on widening Winston Road from Ninth Street to Biesecker Road to help with traffic.

The project will add four lanes, sidewalks, bike lanes and a center landscaped area.

Mayor Newell Clark said that long-time businesses like Smiley's Barbecue, Speedy's Barbecue and Hayes Jewelers will now have to relocate.

Recently, a petition started circulating. It requests the city to take a portion of the Erlanger Historic district across the street to protect businesses.

Clark says city council would have to ask the state historic preservation office to take the Erlanger area out of the historic district.

However, he says even if that were to happen those businesses on the other side of the street would still be affected.

“At my age I’m looking out for the new generation to come in. So, we are building now for them. That's in the future but the way it is now we would have to tear down. If we had to build a new building gosh it would take five, ten years to get started doing what we are doing now,” Hayes said.

Construction is set to start in 2020. Clark says that the city is asking NCDOT to be fair with these businesses when it comes to purchasing their land.

He says he wants them to rebuild and be a part of the new growth.