Four-way stop project underway

Published 10:58 am Tuesday, June 27, 2017

LEWISTON-WOODVILLE – A major change in traffic flow is underway in this Bertie County town.

On Monday, crews with the North Carolina Department of Transportation began a two-week project that will convert the intersection of NC 11 and NC 308 into a four-way stop. Currently, traffic on NC 11 has full right-of-way.

During the safety upgrade, NCDOT crews will be constructing a concrete median on NC 11, installing signage and making other improvements.

Motorists will see intermittent lane closures on both roads while construction is taking place.

Work is expected to be complete by Friday, July 7.

The prelude to this major change came in February during a meeting of the Bertie County Board of Commissioners. At that time, despite concerns from citizens and the Commissioners, who requested a study of the intersection in question, NCDOT officials ruled out a stop light at the crossing of NC 11/308. DOT Division Traffic Engineer Jason Davidson said, based on the research NCDOT had conducted, a stoplight at the intersection was not warranted.

“Last year we came before you and heard comments on the pressing need for some improvements at this location, NC 11/308,” said Davidson at the February meeting. “At that time we were discussing for a traffic signal, and it has been responded to.  But through the traffic counts and other data we pulled on the intersection, it has been determined that a traffic light was not warranted based on the Federal Highway Administration guidelines and recommendations.”

Davidson said despite DOT ruling out a stop light, there remains a safety issue at that intersection. NC 11 is typically busy with traffic, particularly container trucks traveling between the ports of Wilmington, NC and Norfolk, VA as well as other heavy tracks. Meanwhile, NC 308 serves as one of the main arteries for the Perdue Farms processing plant located near Lewiston-Woodville.

The engineer cited that while there had been no fatalities at the intersection within the past several years, there had been other severe accidents at the location.

“It’s one of those locations that has had a habitual problem,” Davidson noted. “Thankfully nothing has been extremely severe. While there’ve been no fatalities, there have been other severe accidents.”

Davidson brought a group of five before-and-after Crash Diagrams from similar intersections in Wake, Durham, Gaston, Randolph, and Roberson counties.  It contained locations with similar traffic patterns, similar locations, similar speed limits, and similar traffic volumes.

“This is some background information on what we are proposing, and where it was implemented with great success,” he reported. “Usually with these recommendations we see an 80 percent reduction in crashes, and it also decreases the severity of the crashes exponentially.”

The engineers recommended changing the intersection to a four-way stop pattern.

“Every direction approaching the intersection would have to stop,” he said. “You’re lowering speeds, everyone would have to stop, and you’re getting into a situation with the speed being controlled that there would be far less fender-bender crashes and stuff like that.”

Davidson said a flashing warning light would be installed to alert motorists of the impending 4-way stop.

“We already have a ‘vehicle-entering flasher’, so we decided that on the Highway11 approaches that those signs would be converted over to a “stop-ahead sign” blinking red that will flash all the time indicating there is a stop ahead,” he acknowledged. “The overhead flashing light that’s in the intersection currently would be changed to red all the way around.  We’ll keep that in place as counter measures to make sure this works.”

The changes were approved through a resolution of support from the Bertie Commissioners.

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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