05/01/12 — Agreement reached on road intersection

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Agreement reached on road intersection

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 1, 2012 1:46 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A right-of-way agreement has been signed that clears the way for the state to close the Zion Church Road intersection with N.C. 55 and N.C. 403 and move it farther east on N.C. 55.

The intersection, located about five miles east of Mount Olive, has been the scene of 11 crashes and two fatalities over the past five years.

While being hailed as a major safety improvement at the dangerous intersection, it still falls short of what the Department of Transportation had hoped for -- eliminating an intersection.

Originally, the DOT had hoped to abandon the right-of-way and close a dirt section of Emmaus Church Road that intersects N.C. 55. However, that was dropped because of public opposition.

The realigned Zion Church/N.C. 55 intersection will be approximately 800 feet east of the existing one and about a mile west of the Emmaus Church Road intersection with N.C. 55.

"There is no net (intersection) gain," said Chris Pendergraph, DOT district engineer. "Still, it is a benefit to the public to do away with a dangerous intersection. The gain in public safety is not as great, but it is still a net gain."

It has been a year since the state first approached the county about doing away with the intersection.

Initially, the state had asked the county for its support to abandon about 200 feet of Zion Church Road leading to the intersection to close the intersection. To make up for the loss of access to N.C. 55, the state would pave the unpaved section of Emmaus Church Road.

However, during a public hearing earlier this year, residents in the Zion Church Road community argued that closing the intersection would leave some people stranded should a swampy area on the road flood. Residents said they wanted the road to tie back into N.C. 55 and local resident William Farmer offered to donate the land for the right of way.

The project is expected to cost about $254,000 and could be completed this summer.