The N.C. Department of Transportation is open to at least looking at the possibility of creating a new turn lane through the median on East Main Street.
Dwayne Alligood, DOT engineer, said that the state met with engineer Susan Sayger, who is representing several Havelock businesses, about creating a left-turn lane from East Main Street to Charles Boulevard where the Expressway drive-through convenience store is located.
Nick Patel, an outspoken critic of the median that he has said is hurting his business, owns the Expressway and is one of the owners pushing for the turn lane.
Alligood said the DOT is not committed to creating the turn lane. He said the business owners would need to have a qualified traffic engineering firm do an evaluation that shows such a turn lane would not have a negative effect on traffic flow before it would even be considered.
“We’re not committing to anything at this point,” he said. “We’ve already told the city of Havelock that before anything gets done we’d be looking for their support prior to changing anything if we are to go in that direction.”
Alligood said the study, paid for by the local businesses, would look at traffic volume, turning movements and the number of people that would be making the turn. Before the median was constructed in 2011, Charles Street was often used by residents along Webb Boulevard and surrounding streets to access their neighborhoods.
“We’re focused on the mobility along 70,” Alligood said, referring to East Main Street. “If you can maintain the mobility along U.S. 70 and improve access, then most likely we’re going to support that. But if it improves access but is detrimental to the mobility along U.S. 70, then we’re going to have some concerns about that.”
The traffic engineering study would determine what form the break in the median would take.
“My expectation is that it would be a channelized left turn,” Alligood said. “That’s what the property owner is asking for, essentially a channelized left turn that would go into Charles Street.”
East of Charles Street, at the break in the median at Forest Hill Drive, there have been complaints that the road is not wide enough to allow U-turns, Alligood said.
“There has also been a complaint that U-turning traffic down at Forest Hills is making a left, then cutting through the parking lot of the establishment there, so that’s part of what will get looked at too,” he said. “That’s one thing that DOT had recognized earlier.”
Alligood said the spot may require additional pavement added to the right side of the westbound lanes to allow for the wider U-turns, but there isn’t funding available for the necessary right-of-way property acquisition and utility work that would be required.
Such a measure might also be necessary at the Charles Street intersection, Alligood said.
“That same issue that you’ve got at Forest Hills would also have to be looked at at Charles to make sure that you don’t create a situation there the same way … ,” he said.