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M’boro Council opposes DOT plan

MURFREESBORO – During the June 4 meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners, the Board voted on a proposal from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to make major changes to the section of US Hwy 158 known as the Murfreesboro Bypass.

The Murfreesboro Town Council has now passed a resolution opposing these changes. They voted on the resolution during their regular meeting here Wednesday.

As previously reported by the News Herald, the NCDOT’s proposal will upgrade the section of the highway to a “superstreet” design as well as increase the speed limit from 55 to 60. The well-travelled highway has already been transformed to a “superstreet” design east of the Murfreesboro Bypass towards Winton and continues that way into Gates County.

Roads joining the “superstreet” can only turn right onto it. To turn left and travel in the other direction, drivers must first turn right and then make a U-turn in a designated area.

NCDOT Division One Maintenance Engineer Winn Bridgers stated at the June 4 meeting of the Hertford County Commissioners that this design will simplify the number of choices for drivers and minimize the conflict points at an intersection.

As a part of the “superstreet” design, traffic signals along the Murfreesboro Bypass will be removed. The traffic signal at the intersection of US 158 and US 258, however, will remain in place because that one is located in Northampton County.

Murfreesboro Mayor Hal Thomas read the drafted resolution out loud before it was submitted to a vote by the Town Council on Wednesday. The document explained reasons why the Town Council was against the “superstreet” changes.

Noted in the resolution was that the Hertford County Commissioners had supported the changes “without input from Murfreesboro, its citizens or any of its businesses or institutions, including Chowan University.”

The resolution also explained the Town Council’s opposition to the altered traffic pattern on the Murfreesboro Bypass “because of feared adverse impact on the orderly flow of traffic to and from the Hertford County Middle School and Chowan University.”

Hertford County Middle School is located on NC 11 not far from the highway’s intersection with US 158. Chowan University is accessed from US 158 by Chowan College Road, located just west of the US 158/NC 11 intersection.

The resolution concluded by requesting the NCDOT to consider other options.

Council member Billy Theodorakis quickly motioned to accept the resolution, and Council member Berna Stephens seconded. The resolution passed unanimously with no discussion from the Council.