Divide exists over 11 & 11 project

Published 9:03 am Saturday, August 7, 2010

AHOSKIE – As the NC Department of Transportation moves forward with changes to the NC 11 & 11 intersection near here, at least two members of the Hertford County’s Board of Commissioners appear divided on certain aspects of the project.

While both Commission Chairman Johnnie Ray Farmer and Commissioner Howard Hunter III wholeheartedly favor the safety side of the changes, they have differing opinions on another aspect.

“What DOT is doing there (transforming the dangerous junction from a crossroads to a T-intersection by blocking off the east side of NC 11 & 11) is not the solution; an overpass is the answer,” Farmer said in a telephone interview on Friday. “But something has to be done there; it’s an extremely dangerous intersection. An overpass will cost six million dollars and we know that’s not going to happen right now.

“If blocking one side of that intersection saves one life, it’s worth it,” Farmer continued. “I’m all for the safety of all motorists traveling through that intersection. In my mind, the inconvenience of having part of that intersection blocked off is trumped by the issue of safety.”

Hunter, also contacted Friday by telephone, said he was fully aware of the safety factor, but had other issues with the plan.

“The safety part I understand,” Hunter said. “What I don’t understand and what bothers me the most about this plan is that they (DOT) are moving the danger element from one intersection to another.”

Hunter was making reference to Modin Road, one intersection south of the NC 11 & 11 junction. DOT plans to use Modlin Road to reroute traffic to US 13 and have installed a stoplight at the intersection at Modlin Road/US 13 to handle what is expected to be a heavier traffic load on Modlin Road.

“I’m against moving danger from one intersection to another,” Hunter stressed. They could have moved the light they’ve put at Modlin to 11 and 11.”

Hunter added, “All of us are for the safety of this…some of us feel that it’s a bad thing to move the danger from one intersection to another.”

Additionally, Hunter said the plan will not only increase traffic on Modlin Road, but other local highways as well.

“You’ll see more vehicles on Union Road, NC 461 and even the Saluda Hall Road,” Hunter noted. “More traffic means the possibility of more accidents.”

Hunter said he wished that DOT officials would sit down with the Hertford County Commissioners to discuss this plan in more detail, possibly leading to other options.

Meanwhile, DOT officials told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald earlier this week that the work is on schedule with plans to make the new traffic pattern effective on Monday, Aug. 9. Included in those plans is the placement of a earth berm between Deerwoods Road and the east side of the NC 11 & 11 intersection.

Farmer said he is unaware of any delays in the project.

Hertford County Manager Loria Williams also weighed in on the issue, saying, “There are some concerns about DOT’s plan, but we do know that DOT put this project in place as a good faith effort to reduce the number of accidents at that intersection, thus making it a safer intersection. We’re trying to balance all this as government officials. We don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth and bad mouth what DOT is attempting to accomplish with this project.”