11/13/06 — Construction expected to begin on crossover project

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Construction expected to begin on crossover project

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 13, 2006 1:45 PM

Construction on a directional crossover at the intersection of U.S. 70 and Beston Road could begin as soon as today, transportation officials said.

Contractors were at the site this morning to determine if this weekend's rain would delay the project, North Carolina Department of Transportation District 3 engineer Tim Little said. If construction doesn't begin today, contractors will begin by the end of the week, Little said. The project should take about a month to complete.

The directional crossover was recommended in the U.S. 70 corridor study, which called for spot-safety improvements along the 134-mile corridor between Clayton and Morehead City to provide quicker, safer travel from Raleigh to the beach.

The projected $300,000 project is designed to control which way drivers turn at an intersection. For example, if an eastbound driver on the four-lane reaches a major intersection, that driver could turn left off of the four-lane onto a side road. But a driver coming from the side road could not turn left onto the four-lane. A concrete barrier would force the driver to turn right until he or she reaches a left-turn lane where he or she could make a U-turn. Such a crossover already exists at the intersection of Piney Grove Church Road and U.S. 70 East.

More than 26,000 cars drive through the area every day, according to a 2002 NCDOT traffic volume study. That number has climbed to more than 50,000 in the past four years, highway officials said in March. The volume of vehicles at the intersection each day contributes to the amount of accidents. There were 17 accidents at the intersection between 2001 and 2004, which ranks it as one of the highest among intersections along the corridor.

In January 2005, three crashes occurred within a week at the intersection. In June, an early morning, single car accident on South Beston Road near U.S. 70 claimed the life of the driver when the person was ejected from the vehicle.

The construction of a directional crossover should limit the amount of potential accidents. 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 U.S. 70 and Beston Road intersection has 32 such points. By installing concrete barriers, that number would be reduced to four.