Discussion is limited on regional change

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, July 5, 2017

I have a lot of close friends that currently work or have retired at the North Carolina Department of Transportation. The opinion I’m about to express is in no way targeting my DOT buddies…..rather the ones a bit higher up on the pay scale.

Has NCDOT gone completely off its rocker?

On the afternoon of June 23, I received an email from the NCDOT office in Raleigh, announcing – “Safety improvements coming to Lewiston-Woodville intersection;

construction begins on four-way stop.”

I was aware that a four-way stop at the intersection of NC 11 and NC 308 at Lewiston-Woodville was part of the discussion held earlier this year between DOT officials and the Bertie County Board of Commissioners over safety concerns at this particular crossroads.

I never thought DOT would even consider such a drastic measure. A stop sign on a wide-open 55 mph highway, one that is extremely popular for container trucks traveling between the ports of Wilmington, NC and Norfolk, VA as well as hog trucks carrying swine north to Smithfield (VA) Foods.

Additionally, NC 11 is busy with regular vehicle traffic traveling to and from Greenville and other points south and west of the RC area.

Then one has to consider the traffic on NC 308. That’s the route of choice to reach the Perdue processing plant, a facility that employs hundreds of individuals and operates around the clock.

Really, DOT….you want to increase safety at this intersection by relying drivers to make the correct decision on which vehicle has the right-of-way at a four-way stop sign? Perhaps DOT needed to test the “rules of the road” intelligence of quite a few drivers here in our area before coming to the conclusion that a four-way stop intersection is a good idea. Most local drivers that I see already struggle with the proper knowledge of the most basic rules of the road. Toss a four-way stop sign into the mix, on a major roadway and not within the lower speed zones of a town, and watch the number of accidents there go through the roof.

Then there’s the economic impact of this decision. As mentioned earlier, NC 11 is a major transportation artery for big truck traffic. It’s a regional highway, stretching from Murfreesboro south to I-40 (north of Wilmington), meaning this significant change impacts more than local motorists.

Other than Bertie County, I do not recall a conversation between NC DOT representatives and county/municipal officials from areas impacted by this decision. As a matter of fact, upon receiving the email on June 23 from NCDOT, I responded and asked if a public hearing was held regarding the decision to make such a major change along a regional highway. To date, no one at NCDOT has responded to my question.

I do know that the Bertie County Board of Commissioners, at a regularly scheduled meeting held in February of this year, voted to approve a resolution of support for the four-way stop project at NC 11 / 308.

Yes, I’m fully aware that this intersection is in Bertie County. But again I will state that this is a regional highway, and that other local government officials should have been brought to the table to discuss making such a drastic change.

Perhaps it’s too late now to reopen the floor for discussion. The only thing left is to do at this point is to either make sure your life insurance policy is up to date if traveling through this intersection, or find a safer north-south route.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.