02/19/12 — Roads to get traffic relief

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Roads to get traffic relief

By Steve Herring
Published in News on February 19, 2012 1:50 AM

Relief could soon be on the way for motorists who find themselves snarled in traffic bottlenecks on Wayne Memorial Drive and North William Street (U.S. 117).

Widening projects for both roads are part of the state's future highway plans, but until that happens, local officials are hopeful that less-extensive projects will provide some relief.

Both roads and their respective traffic issues were discussed during the recent meeting of the Goldsboro Metropolitan Planning Organization. During that gathering, members greed that a proposed planning study of the area around the new N.C. 44 and Wayne Memorial Drive interchange should be expanded to encompass the entire area between the existing U.S. 70 Bypass and the new one.

The first section of the new U.S. 70 Bypass opened in December, but has been designated as N.C. 44 until the entire project is completed.

The study, which is expected to take about six months, will look at potential development around the new interchange. However, a developer already has announced plans for a new Bojangles near the intersection of Wayne Memorial Drive and Tommy's Road.

Local officials are concerned about development in the area, but in this case, the development on Tommy's Road could help alleviate the traffic problem on Wayne Memorial Drive.

At times when a vehicle is unable to turn left onto Tommy's Road, traffic is backing up along Wayne Memorial Drive, sometimes as far north as the exit off N.C. 44.

"You come off of the new (U.S.) 70 and head in toward the college -- a couple of days ago I came off and the traffic was stopped from the top of the overpass there on the new road all the way down to the stoplight,"former Wayne County commissioner Andy Anderson said.

"A pickup truck was trying to turn left, and he sat there. We sat through two lights, he did, before he finally got through, and traffic was backing up bad. I think that will be taken care of in the future when you put the four lanes in, but in the meantime that is a pretty bad spot."

The state is looking to partner with the developer because it lacks any money at the present to address that intersection, said Chris Pendergraph of the state Department of Transportation.

"It only takes one person to turn left at that intersection and that traffic backs up," Pendergraph said. "In one sense that development will actually be good and be a partially funding mechanism to help improve that intersection. There is developer looking at a project there at the intersection, and we do not have any current plans to able to fund construction of left turn lanes on Wayne Memorial Drive at Tommy's Road.

"However, we do this rather routinely when developers come in and it works out good for the developer and good for DOT. Basically what happens is that developer does a little bit of extra widening that we would normally not require them to do. Then we help them by resurfacing the road."

That widening would create the road bedway for the left turn that the state would pave and stripe and would be less expensive for the state, he said. It saves the developer money as well.

The State Transportation Improvement Plan includes eventually four-laning Wayne Memorial Drive from New Hope Road to the new bypass. However, that is relatively long range, around late 2020, although there are hopes it will move up, he said.

"We know there is a problem now at Tommy's and hopefully this would get us through from now until then," he said.

North William Street (U.S. 117 Business) near Fedelon Trail is also a bottleneck, particularly for southbound traffic attempting to turn onto Industry Court, Pendergraph said.

U.S. 117 from Fedelon Trail to the U.S. 70 Bypass is included in the State Transportation Improvement Plan and has a "tremendous amount" of money set aside for it, but the description just says widen the two-lane stretch to multi-lanes, he said.

"What I was proposing doing was just keeping that three-lane section like it is at Fedelon and just extending the three lanes," he said. "That would get rid of that little two-lane section there at Industry Court. If you come off the interchange, it is like four or five lanes, but immediately narrows down to two lanes as it goes by Industry Court so there is no left turn lane."

Pendergraph expects that two-lance section will be even more of a chokepoint once the new bypass is completed since it will funnel commercial traffic to the large industries located on Industry Court.

That is the reason the state is looking to widen it to the three lanes, he said. Construction design is under way for the project, which is expected to cost approximately $300,000, he said.

"We think we can do that relatively inexpensively compared to millions and millions of dollars," he said. "We can do that with existing right of way -- no island, no turn restrictions."