The N.C. Department of Transportation has decided to take the advice of local residents and look at small-scale changes to the intersection of Carolina Pines Boulevard and U.S. 70.
Dwayne Alligood, DOT District 2 engineer, said the state was getting ready to advertise bids on a project to offset the right turn lane at the entrance to Carolina Pines.
Major changes had been proposed, changes that would have altered how residents would get in and out of their neighborhood. Those changes would have included the elimination of the access to U.S. 70 East from the boulevard intersection.
Instead, residents pleaded with DOT officials at a July 16 public hearing to leave the access open and shift a right-turn lane into the subdivision from U.S. 70 West to allow for better visibility for drivers leaving the neighborhood.
“That was one of the discussions that we heard in the public meeting, and so we’re going to go ahead and get that portion constructed,” Alligood said. “It will include offsetting the turn lane at the main entrance and resurfacing the service road on the Carolina Pines side of U.S. 70.”
Alligood said moving the turn lane should allow for more visibility.
“The intent is to give better sight distance for traffic leaving Carolina Pines so when they look back east on U.S. 70 that they will have a better sight distance to see traffic coming,” Alligood said.
Alligood said the reconstruction of the turning lane would also be accompanied by resurfacing of the adjacent service road on the Carolina Pines side of the highway.
“You’ve got the three connections from Carolina Pines to U.S. 70. It will cover all three of those,” Alligood said. “It’s just going to resurface it to give a little better ride quality there.”
The goal, Alligood said, is to reduce the number of crashes at the intersection. The DOT cited 23 crashes that occurred at the intersection between 2007 and 2012 as the reason behind the proposed redesign. One person was killed and eight others were injured in the crashes, which involved 43 vehicles and caused an estimated $142,150 in property damage.
Alligood said that should the crash pattern continue with the initial change, the proposed full redesign could be constructed.
“It should improve sight distance and we’re hopeful that it will be beneficial and that we won’t have to proceed with the rest of the work,” he said. “If that crash pattern continues, then we would look at building the remainder of the project.
“We’ll get that implemented and see how it performs and then based on that make the decision to move forward with the remainder of the project or if we’re satisfied that that helped alleviate the crash pattern that’s been occurring.”
The estimated cost of the project is $160,000, considerably less that the estimated $965,000 cost of the major rearrangement of the intersection.
The original plan would have meant that Carolina Pines residents would not be able to make left turns from Carolina Pines Boulevard onto eastbound U.S. 70. Instead, drivers who are intent on going to Havelock would have to make a right turn and then make a U-turn at a crossing just west of the main intersection, or use the service road to access the west crossover. Residents would have also had the opportunity to make the left turn at the first intersection east of the main intersection. With the smaller, less expensive alternative, drivers would still be able to turn left onto U.S. 70 out of Carolina Pines Boulevard.