Town Council continues to oppose superstreet proposal

Published 5:31 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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MURFREESBORO – The Murfreesboro Town Council remains opposed to the NCDOT’s plan to make major changes to a section of US Highway 158 which runs outside of town. They unanimously passed a resolution at their meeting here on Dec. 8 which included suggestions on alternate solutions to improve road safety.

Since 2018, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has proposed changing the Murfreesboro Bypass to a “superstreet” design. This would alter intersections on Highway 158 leading into town (excluding the one located in Northampton County) by removing the traffic signals and redesigning the road to only allow right turns. Drivers wishing to turn left would have to make a u-turn in a designated area.

The speed limit on that section of the road would also increase from 55 to 60 mph.

Highway 158 east of town, heading towards Winton and into Gates County, already utilizes this superstreet design.

In 2018, the council also unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the proposal.

According to the newest resolution passed at the Dec. 8 meeting, the council cited concerns about the adverse effect on public safety as well as the town’s economy. They also requested improving the intersection with signals, warning signs, and flashing lights, or to construct overpasses providing for left and right turns for traffic traveling in all directions.

The idea to pass another resolution was brought up at the council’s meeting in November. Hertford County’s Economic Development Director Kelly Bowers was in attendance to share her concerns about the superstreet.

“You’re asking buses and truckers to merge into traffic. That, to me, is a safety issue,” Bowers said, noting specifically the heavy amount of school bus traffic from Hertford County Middle School that passes through the intersection with Highway 11.

She also said the redesigned road could make it more difficult for emergency vehicles to make quick turns if necessary.

Bowers went on to explain that the u-turn design will make Murfreesboro less accessible, which could also have a negative effect on economic growth in town and along the highway. If a business thinks it’ll be difficult for customers to get there, Bowers said, then they’ll be less inclined to bring their business to Murfreesboro.

“To me, it isolates Murfreesboro to a certain extent,” agreed Council member Jay Revelle.

Bowers suggested the NCDOT could make other improvements at the intersection instead, including better signage, more signals, and eventually, an overpass. She also explained that Watauga County had a similar situation, and with enough support they were able to halt plans for a superstreet there.

The town council decided to table the resolution at November’s meeting to give them time to make sure the wording was correct. At the Dec. 8 meeting, Mayor Hal Thomas read the revised resolution.

Revelle motioned to approve the resolution, and Council member Berna Stephens seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor with no further discussion amongst the council.