ARP Corner: Youngsville Invests in Safety, Walkability as Town Continues to Grow

Stephanie Hughes, Communications & Multimedia Strategist (ARP)

Youngsville has seen tremendous growth in recent years. The town sits in Franklin County, about 25 miles northeast of Raleigh. Today the town boasts about 2,500 residents, more than doubling its population in just over a decade. The town is excited to celebrate the 150th anniversary of its incorporation in 2025. Town Clerk Emily Hurd has been with the town for over 20 years and has seen many changes during her time there. She recognizes the challenge of holding onto Youngsville’s roots as a small North Carolina town while also opening up to the opportunities of growth.

“We are trying to keep that small town feel as we grow, but it is a little hard,” Hurd shared. “We want to be a community—not just a city—but a community with all of our residents involved. We are trying to make sure that the area grows in a way that is consistent with that.”

As the town has grown and changed, one thing that has remained unchanged is the busy street that runs through the center of town. Youngsville’s Main Street is also Hwy 96, meaning each day there can be up to 7,000 vehicles that make their way through town, providing challenges for residents who want to park along Main Street and pedestrians who felt unsafe crossing the street, which, in turn, was having a negative impact on local businesses.

“No one wanted to park downtown to go to the businesses because it was so hard to get back into traffic. We had a huge turnover of businesses at that point,” Hurd said.

Improvements for Main Street have been a topic of discussion with town officials for decades and the town was working towards securing funding for a number of major upgrades when they received the unprecedented funds distributed as a part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP). The town received just over $438,000, which they in turn put directly towards police salaries and other set expenses. In doing so, they opened up space in their budget for a larger capital project such as the Main Street Improvements Project.

To make an even bigger impact, the town combined their ARP funds together with state and federal government grants, and both Franklin County Public Utilities and CSX Railroad also contributed to the project, which included a number of large initiatives totaling around $4 million. The project officially got underway in mid-2022 with pedestrian walking areas as a top priority. The project included the creation and updating of three crosswalks where there had previously only been one, along with the repairing and pouring of new sidewalks along much of Main Street and creating curb extensions at the intersections and major driveways. These curb extensions help by narrowing the roadway, which slows traffic, allows pedestrians to be more visible at the crosswalks, and provides a shorter distance for foot traffic to cross the street. In a preemptive move, the town partnered with Franklin County Public Utilities to upgrade all water and sewer lines prior to the repaving of Main Street to avoid having to tear up the road in the future. CSX Railroad joined the project by repairing the three railroad crossings in town and making a smoother transition across the tracks.

The result has been a safer and more usable Main Street area for Youngsville residents and visitors. It has already made a difference for town events such as the annual Trick-or-Treat of Main Street that invites families to visit the businesses along Main Street after school on Halloween. In the past, there have been safety concerns with families crossing the busy street and only having one crosswalk to do so properly.

“Previously with the traffic it was a huge nightmare. This project increased some turn lanes, it increased the safety and our ability to cross [pedestrians] over and made them more visible to traffic that was coming through. The bump outs slowed people down. It turned out this year was really our best year and we were very happy with the turnout for that,” Hurd shared.

Local businesses along Main Street have long noted a need for improvements for the town. Jim and Sue Charron own Charron’s Deli & Cafe, which has been situated on Main Street for 15 years and has seen the challenges the traffic can cause and the need for repairs.

“The sidewalks were horrendous. You would never be able to push a wheelchair or stroller down them,” Jim Charron said.

Emily Hurd as panelist for NCLM’s ARP Webinar

Leah and Daniel Fuller opened Nutrition on Main, which sells healthy shakes, teas, and other drinks, in October of 2020. They have heard from customers how the upgrades have made driving through town a more pleasant experience.

“It has made a difference. It is super smooth sailing as a resident and as a business owner. Customers come in and they talk about how nice it looks, how smooth it is now,” Leah Fuller said.

While the updates may not have changed the number of vehicles coming through town during peak hours, they have helped to increase the walkability of Main Street and provided some relief in the gridlock of traffic. These businesses have also noticed an uptick in the pedestrian traffic since the sidewalks and crosswalks have been added and repaired.

“We are seeing a lot more [foot] traffic downtown, versus before the traffic was so congested and it looks like it has opened up some,” Daniel Fuller said. “We have had a lot more growth in our business from people stopping versus before when it was kind of gridlocked through here for the past three or four years.”

“It seems like there’s a lot more foot traffic in town now,” Jim Charron said. “It needed an upgrade I think it did exactly what they were thinking it was going to do. It made it look better and made it look more appealing.”

The town stresses the importance of this type of project not just for creating a safe environment, but also for sharing the character of the town with others who pass through or come to visit.

“One of our goals, of course, was the safety, but we want people to come to Youngsville from anywhere and enjoy the downtown events we have … and enjoy a good hometown feel,” Hurd said. “I think they will like it if they get here.”


The Treasury portal for filing the annual Project & Expenditure Report is expected to open on April 1, 2024, and close on April 30, 2024. Before filing, be sure you have access to your account. You must renew this account annually, so you will want to check the expiration date to ensure you will be able to file during the month of April.

The deadline for obligating funds is also fast approaching as all ARP dollars must be obligated by December 31, 2024. Towns should not wait until the last minute to take the necessary steps to do so.

If your town needs help with filing your annual report or making plans for obligating funds, the League has ARP representatives across the state who can work with you on these projects.


  • ARP Report Filing Window: April 1–30, 2024
  • Obligation Deadline: December 31, 2024
  • Fund Expenditure Deadline: December 31, 2026


The League continues to work with towns across North Carolina with funds earmarked specifically to provide services to cities and towns. In 2023 alone, the ARP team met with 464 towns to support them in upgrading their municipal accounting systems and boosting financial reporting capabilities, providing access to expert legal and grant writing services, helping towns “tell their ARP story” through our communications staff, securing town assets through cybersecurity upgrades, and assisting towns with ARP compliance.