01/25/07 — Beston crossover concerns residents

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Beston crossover concerns residents

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on January 25, 2007 1:54 PM

Property owners near the intersection of U.S. 70 and Beston Road continued to voice their opposition to a crossover being built by the state Department of Transportation at a meeting earlier this week.

DOT engineers Jerry Page, Ricky Greene and Bobby Lewis described the crossover plan Monday night at Wilber's Barbecue restaurant. They were joined by state Transportation Board Member Tom Betts, state Sen. John Kerr, state Rep. Van Braxton and about 50 people who own property near the intersection.

Property owners say the intersection needs a stoplight. State officials have been trying to limit the number of stoplights on U.S. 70, which already has more than 60 between Clayton and the coast.

The intersection is considered one of the most dangerous in Wayne County, with about 70 accidents in recent years, including several fatalities and about 100 people hurt.

Engineers say the directional crossover, which would prevent traffic off Beston Road from crossing directly from one side of U.S 70 to other or from turning left directly onto the four-lane highway, will greatly reduce the chance for accidents.

Property owners, including farmers in the area, said the crossover would create more problems than it would solve.

DOT officials said they were conducting field tests this week to ensure their construction specifications are correct and will provide the most safety possible.

Transportation, municipal and county officials have held five previous meetings about the intersection since June 2004.

Neighbors have protested for years over the lack of controls at the intersection, which has seen traffic increase as development in the area has increased. The U.S. 70 Corridor Commission asked state officials to modify the intersection, and after studying the available options, engineers chose the directional crossover.

Farmers who own property on both sides of U.S. 70 have argued that it will be more difficult for them to move heavy equipment across the highway because they would have to make the necessary U-turns.

David Benson, who owns farmland on both sides of the highway, said last month that if he is forced to make U-turns with his equipment, he fears he may slow down traffic and possibly cause more accidents.

Transportation officials said they would conduct U-turns this week with large vehicles to ensure the lanes can accommodate the tractors, harvesters and other large vehicles safely, Lewis said.

"We want to make sure we have an adequate width for turning the tractor trailer. We want to verify our design work. We'll confirm it in the field and make any adjustments," he said.

Construction workers will also paint the divider planned for the intersection on the road and make sure the tractor trailer can conduct safe turns off Beston Road without running over the paint. Meanwhile, construction will be limited to areas away from the divider.

"We hope we can take their concerns and incorporate them into what we've been trying to do since the beginning (of the project)," Greene said.