FAISON -- Planned safety improvements to the U.S. 117/N.C. 50 intersection are on hold and could even be dropped because of public opposition.

All of the 10 comments received at a recent public meeting on the project were in opposition, said Michael Bass, state Department of Transportation Division 3 project manager.

The complaints fell into three categories -- possible adverse effect on emergency response time, large trucks and slow-moving farm vehicles.

Faison town officials have asked that DOT representatives attend the town board's Sept. 6 meeting to further explain the project, particularly for those who did not attend the first meeting held July 25, at Faison Town Hall, 110 N.E. Center St.

The project would eliminate left turns from N.C. 50 onto the U.S. 117 Connector at the roads' intersection just north of Faison.

The project is designed to reduce angle and left turn crashes at the site where there have been 10 crashes between 2009 and 2014 -- six angle crashes and two left turn crashes.

One of the left turn crashes resulted in two fatalities.

The improvements would turn N.C. 50 into a "superstreet," also referred to as a "synchronized street," which improves safety and reduces delays by eliminating left turns from side streets.

Instead, drivers make U-turns at a safer distance from the intersection.

Under the plan, traffic on N.C. 50 would no longer be able to cross the U.S. 117 Connector in order to make a turn left.

Motorists on N.C. 50 would have to turn right onto the U.S. 117 Connector and travel along the road for a certain distance, 950 to 1,000 feet, before they could make a U-turn.

Traffic on the U.S. 117 Connector would still be able to turn left onto N.C. 50.

Bass said some of the comments were concerned that slow-moving farm vehicles could not travel fast enough along the U.S. 117 Connector to safely make the U-turn.

Others were worried that the U-turns would add time to emergency vehicle response times, Bass said.

Those at the meeting were asked if they thought the existing intersection was better than the proposal.

They said it was, Bass said.

Bass said the DOT would like to move forward if possible, but that for now the project is "kind of up in the air."

No right-of-way acquisition will be required for the $1.6 million project. Construction had been scheduled to start in June 2018.

Currently, N.C. 50 is a two-lane undivided roadway, controlled by stop signs with red flashing beacons to provide additional warnings to approaching vehicles at the intersection. It has a 55 mph speed limit.

The U.S. 117 Connector is a four-lane, divided roadway with right and left turn lanes in both directions at the intersection.

It operates as a free movement roadway with yellow flashing beacons at the intersection.

The speed limit is 60 mph.

The U.S. 117 Connector extends from Interstate 40 in Sampson County to U.S. 117 at Calypso.

A long-term goal is to turn it and U.S. 117 in Wayne County into an extension of Interstate 795 that currently ends just north of West Ash Street in Goldsboro.

Even if the U.S. 117/N.C. 50 project is shelved, it will have no practical impact on the I-795 project that is still decades away in Duplin County, Bass said.

That project is not included in the DOT's recently approved 10-year Transportation Improvement Plan for Duplin County.

The Wayne County portion is included in the plan, although some of it is not funded as of 2027.

For more information, contact Bass at 910-341-2000 or by email at mlbass@ncdot.gov.