Speak your mind!

Published 8:33 am Tuesday, May 14, 2013

EURE – Residents here with concerns over the design of the NC 137/US 13 intersection will have a chance to speak their minds to NC Department of Transportation officials.

A stakeholders meeting has been scheduled from 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, May 16 at the Eure Volunteer Fire Department. There, citizens from the Eure community will be able to ask questions and view maps regarding the intersection’s current design.

In March, John Blake Parker of Eure asked the commissioners to join in the effort to have the NC 137 intersection redesigned and include a stoplight to allow for direct crossover there. He, along with other residents of the Eure community, met with Commissioner Johnny Hora (the Eure District representative on the board) and Gates County Manager Jon Mendenhall.

Members of the Eure Volunteer Fire Department have also expressed their concerns over DOT’s design of the intersection. The current design utilizes the “super street concept” – meaning the NC 137/US 13 intersection will not permit traffic to have direct access north and south on US 13 as well as onto Sand Banks Road. Instead, DOT is designing “super streets” near that location….u-turn lanes installed approximately 800 feet north and south of the intersection.

A petition bearing hundreds of names, all in spurt of a stoplight at the NC 137 intersection, was presented by Parker to the Gates County Commissioners at their March 6 meeting.

“I’ve been around here for 75 years. All you have to do is go down there (NC 137 intersection) and watch the amount of traffic going through there every day,” Parker said at that meeting. “Some have told me they have to wait five to ten minutes to get on the (US 13) highway because of all the traffic. Now think about how it’s going to be to have to turn and go down, turn around and come back.

“A stoplight can take care of that,” Parker continued. “These new style stoplights will help. They’ll stay green (for the US 13 traffic) and only turn when a car on NC 137 comes up to the intersection and triggers that light to turn. We need to go through the channels and get to those who can make a decision to change this. This petition lets you know that these citizens do not agree with the way the road is now designed.”

Hora noted the large number of trucks (18-wheelers) that use NC 137 to access lumber related businesses in Gates County as well as hauling timber products to locations outside of the county and heavily use NC 137 and US 13 as their main routes.

“When this road improvement project for US 13 was first presented, I wasn’t sold on the super street design,” Hora said, adding that he favored a stoplight at the NC 137 intersection. “Go on the US 158 bypass (a four-lane highway) in Murfreesboro and you’ll see several stoplights. Same for US 17 in Pasquotank County. I don’t see what the big deal is of putting a stoplight there (NC 137 intersection).”

Hora said according to NCDOT’s numbers, 5,700 vehicles per day use US 13/158 from the Winton bridge to NC 137.

“There are a lot of people in Gates County that work in Ahoskie or Hertford County; NC 137 is busy with that traffic,” he noted. “This (current) design presents a safety problem to me. I don’t like having to first turn north to then go south. That’s an inconvenience to the citizens of Gates County.”

Retired North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper Sam Armstead, a Gates County citizen, said he also supports a design change for the NC 137 intersection. He mentioned a DOT study performed several years ago that dealt with a possible NC 137 bypass around Gatesville.

“That study said it was too dangerous for large trucks to turn off of 137 here in Gatesville, and that’s only a 20 mph speed zone,” Armstead recalled. “Ya’ll need to remind DOT that if it’s too dangerous for a 53-foot truck to turn in a 20 mph zone, what about a 55-60 mph zone on a road that has seen a major increase in truck traffic over the years. Think about a small car running up underneath one of those trucks.”

It was at their March meeting where Gates County Commissioners agreed to send a letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and NC Transportation Secretary Tony Tata in an effort to have the design changed to the US 13/158 project currently under construction. Copies of that letter were also forwarded to Gates County’s legislative representation in Raleigh – House Representative Annie Mobley and Senator Bill Cook.

Apparently, the state’s response was to schedule the May 16 meeting in Eure to hear the concerns of the local citizens.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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