Pinehurst considers updates to traffic circle

The traffic circle is considered both a centerpiece of Pinehurst and a bottleneck to traffic.

It was designed in 1956. It is a 600-foot circle with a 30 mph speed limit.

On Tuesday, the Pinehurst Village Council heard a presentation on upcoming changes to the traffic circle. The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) has been working on making changes since 2013. The original study presented 10 alternatives to the community in 2018. None of these were considered acceptable, so NCDOT returned to the drawing board.

There have been dramatic changes since 1956. Engineering practices and travel flow designs have undergone drastic changes. Also, traffic through the circle has grown consistently over the last few years, and that trend is expected to continue to grow. Currently, the circle sees 50,000 cars daily. This rate is projected to grow as traffic increases. Between 2012-2017, a rear-end collision occurred on an average of every four-five days.

As the study progressed, two requirements were central to the redesign. One is to maintain the aesthetics of the circle, and any change to the circle must address the entire circle, not just one leg.

Projected traffic growth by 2040 is projected to grow by 20 to 30%. Under questioning from the board, it was pointed out that traffic projections are projected on population and job growth, and the best faith estimate is based on that.

The board heard three possible approaches to updating the circle.

Option one is to do nothing. From a financial perspective, this is the best approach. However, this would mean that by 2040 the circle would only be able to handle 70% of the projected traffic flow. The overflow traffic would be forced onto side streets to avoid congestion. This would also mean longer wait times and queues entering the circle.

The second option is a flyover. It would require constructing an elevated bridge to connect Highway 15-501 and Highway 211. This would slightly alleviate traffic concerns but would still require extensive modifications to the existing traffic circle.

The third alternative is called a Continuous Flow Intersection. In this instance, the existing traffic circle would be removed and replaced with a series of intersections. It would have an increased number of traffic lights, but they would be simple two-phase lights (no turn arrows) and would be synchronized in both directions. It is considered the most flexible of the design alternatives and should also offer a reduction in the number of crashes.

Pinehurst considers updates to the traffic circle

Image via Village of Pinehurst.

The projected cost is estimated at $26 million, with construction to start in 2026 and be finished in 2028. The next step will be for public hearings, and all interested stakeholders to decide on the final design.

In other business, if you work for the Pinehurst Fire Department, you will see a pay bump. Every year, the village does a salary survey of one-third of their employees, ensuring that the job responsibilities are up to date, and the pay is consistent with the current market situations. This year, almost all the job classifications in the fire department will jump a grade.

All other employees will receive a 4.7% cost of living increase and are eligible for a merit increase of up to 3%. This will not affect the village budget as it was allowed for during the budgeting process.

The Senior America Pageant is the world’s first and foremost pageant to emphasize and give honor to women who have reached the “age of elegance” (60 years old). It is a search for the gracious lady who best exemplifies all senior Americans’ dignity, maturity, and inner beauty.

Pinehurst resident Laura Morgan was the 2022 Ms. N.C. Senior America and was honored by a proclamation from the council, noting the many varied ways she has represented senior America.

The next Village Council meeting is July 12 at 4:30 p.m.

Feature photo of the traffic circle from the Village of Pinehurst.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Chris Prentice. Contact him at [email protected].

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