03/10/05 — Poor solution: Transportation Department looks at U.S. Highway 70

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Poor solution: Transportation Department looks at U.S. Highway 70

Admittedly, the problem of U.S. 70 is a perplexing one. The road gets busier every year, and the busier it gets, the more dangerous it is.

But a solution recommended by the state Department of Transportation would cause too much inconvenience to too many people. More important, it would introduce some dangers of its own.

The Transportation Department, following the advice of consultants, has proposed that the median between the divided highway be closed along much of the Wayne County corridor.

Motorists could no longer make left turns onto U.S. 70 at many important intersections. And at some intersections, traffic could not even turn left off the highway because it would slow traffic.

Consider what the prohibition against turning left onto the highway would do at — just for example — the crossing in front of Wilber’s Barbecue Restaurant.

Now, cars can await an opening, go halfway across the roadway to a wide median, and then wait for another opening to turn left and proceed. That isn’t the safest process, but it seems better than the alternative.

The Department of Transportation proposal would force everyone leaving the area to turn right. Those headed west would have to work their way into a left lane so that, a half-mile down the highway, they could make a U-turn at the N.C. 111 intersection.

Those who couldn’t switch lanes could make a right turn on 111 instead, drive down that road a ways, find a place to turn around, then go back to the light at 111 and make a left turn onto 70.

Or, take the Walnut Creek entrance. Cars leaving the village would have to turn right. Drivers who wanted to go west would have to go a half-mile east to the dangerous Beston Road intersection, then make a U-turn.

Likewise, west-bound drivers wanting to turn left off U.S. 70 would also have to drive down the road, turn around, and come back for a right turn.

These are just a couple of problems with the proposal, which will be presented at hearings for public comment. Dates for the hearings have not yet been set.

No doubt, the department will be urged to scrap the proposal. Surely there can be a better solution than what the consultants recommended.

Published in Editorials on March 10, 2005 11:18 AM