03/03/06 — U-turn lanes on tap for U.S. 70, Beston

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U-turn lanes on tap for U.S. 70, Beston

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 3, 2006 1:53 PM

The Wayne County Board of Commissioners has approved state plans to improve the intersection of U.S. 70 and Beston Road, which has one of the highest accident rates along the entire route.

Engineers with the state Department of Transportation are proposing concrete barriers to guide traffic through the intersection.

Residents of the area have long complained about the need for some improvements. Development in the area has increased traffic on Beston Road, making the intersection difficult to negotiate when traffic on the four-lane is heavy.

The plan would eliminate a left turn by vehicles traveling west on U.S. 70. Vehicles would have to go about a quarter mile and make a U-turn to come back to the intersection. The same would be true for eastbound traffic on U.S. 70 trying to turn left and go north on Beston Road.

Traffic engineer Andy Brown said state officials realize the inconvenience of the U-turns but that those U-turn lanes would be extended to make the turns easier.

"Because it's going to add cars to the turn locations, they are planning to improve the adjacent turn openings and extend the U-turn lanes," he said.

The inconvenience is designed to save lives, Brown added.

"We wanted to inconvenience the least number of people and enhance the safety for the people at the intersection," he said.

The plan calls for a long acceleration lane for traffic coming off Beston Road and trying to merge with the four-lane traffic on U.S. 70.

The plan is part of an access and intersection study of the entire 134-mile stretch of U.S. 70 from Clayton to Morehead City.

Engineers rate the safety of intersections by determining the location of "conflict points," or places in the intersection where the movement of vehicles is most likely to cause a collision. The existing intersection at U.S. 70 and Beston Road has 32 such points, Brown said. By installing the concrete barriers, that number would be reduced to four, he said.

Some area residents had asked planners for a stoplight at the intersection, but with an average of a stoplight every two miles along the route, state officials have looked at other options to improve access and safety. As many as 50,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection, highway officials said.