Johnston County adapting to recent explosive growth

CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina is growing by more than 300 people a day.

But some areas are seeing more growth than others.

In fact, one county, out of all 100 counties, is expected to have the highest percentage population growth during the next 10 years.

If you think the answer is Wake, Durham, or Mecklenburg, try again.

The answer is Johnston County.

It’s not surprising to many in the county.

When Jacquelynn Richardson opened Unique Gifts by Jacquelynn last year in Clayton, she knew she had a good location.

“The customers that keep coming by, they just like how the little town, even though it is growing, it’s still like a small, little hometown feel,” said Richardson.

Right now, the population of Johnston County is about 198,000 people.

In 10 years, the state expects that to grow by 28 percent, which would be more than 250,000 people.

“There are many people in Johnston County that have chosen to live here and they still drive into Raleigh or to RTP to work and they can get more home and a lot for the money,” said Rick Hester, Johnston County Manager.

But there are also challenges to accommodate that growth.

County leaders are expecting a lot of people will move to the northern and western parts of the county and that will mean new or expanded schools and, in some cases, wider roads.

“Johnston County is high on the list for DOT projects right now,” said Berry Gray, Johnston County planning director.

“I think they take good care of us,” said Ana Combe, Clayton resident.

And, even with the growth, Richardson said, “You’ll still have that small, hometown feel.”

Johnston County is expected to hit the 200,000-person mark this spring.

As for those road projects, Hester and Gray said the widening of Interstate-40 and of Highway 42 are on the to-do list.

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