02/15/07 — Beston Road intersection meeting Friday

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Beston Road intersection meeting Friday

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on February 15, 2007 1:51 PM

State Department of Transportation representatives will meet again with property owners near the U.S. 70 and Beston Road intersection on Friday to discuss the effects of building a directional crossover at the intersection.

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

Many property owners, including farmers in the area, believe the crossover will create more problems than it will solve.

County Commissioner Atlas Price questioned why the residents near Beston Road and U.S. 70 have waited so long to speak out against the project. The residents were given their first opportunity during a meeting at Eastern Wayne Middle School in April 2005 where DOT officials explained some of the improvements planned for U.S. 70.

"This is not new to these people," said Price, who attended the meeting at Eastern Wayne.

The meeting Friday, which will be held at Wilber's Barbecue at 2 p.m., will be the second between property owners and transportation officials in the past month. During the first meeting on Jan. 23, property owners said a stoplight should be built instead of a crossover to improve safety.

The U.S. 70 and Beston Road 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.

Officials with the U.S. 70 Corridor Commission, Wayne County Transportation Committee and board of commissioners have said that they want to limit the amount of stoplights along the 134-mile corridor from Clayton to Morehead City. That stretch of road already has more than 60 stoplights, state officials argue.

Gene Braswell, a retired lawyer who lives in nearby Walnut Creek, was quick to note that several stoplights within a mile of each other were built in the past year near U.S. 70's interchange with U.S. 117.

If any intersection needs a stoplight, Braswell said it's Beston Road, which is one of the last crossroads in Wayne County for families and individuals to cross on their way to church, school or work.

Emergency services personnel have also begun to voice their concern over the changes to the intersection.

Wayne County Sheriff Carey Winders said he believes a directional crossover will increase the response time of his deputies. Seven Springs Chief William Casey and Elroy Chief Steven Mozingo said a fire truck would lose valuable time trying to manage through a U-turn and then accelerating back to Beston Road.The residents are expected to continue their fight for a stoplight, Braswell said.

"We believe the safest way to get through the intersection is a stoplight. It's not something where you have to take a U-turn in a tractor or a school bus going into 70 mph traffic," he said.