Stretches of U.S. 1 and U.S. 15/501 in Moore County have double the crash rates of the statewide average. They are congested and cause delays.
The N.C. Department of Transportation has proposed a solution called a synchronized street, sometimes referred to as a superstreet, for a 1.3-mile section of U.S. 15/501 and about two miles of U.S. 1 (North Sandhills Boulevard) in Aberdeen and Southern Pines. The design eliminates the middle turn lane and uses medians and signs to direct drivers who want to go left or through an intersection into turning right, then safely making a U-turn a short distance away.
NCDOT is rolling out a new website today and mailing postcards to area households and businesses explaining how a synchronized street would improve safety and better prepare for anticipated traffic growth along these two busy commercial corridors.
To solicit more feedback on the $27.8 million project, the department will hold a public meeting Monday, Sept. 18, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Aberdeen Recreation Center at 301 Lake Park Crossing. Meetings for businesses will be held on the same day and location at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. A NCDOT representative will be available to answer questions and receive comments regarding the project. People are encouraged to stop by and learn more about the proposed design. Short presentations will be made at 4, 5, 6 pm. Comments may be provided at the meeting or via mail or email to Jeffrey Teague by October 20th at 1-877-370-6737, [email protected].
A few years ago, a developer and the town of Holly Springs in Wake County converted four conventional intersections on the N.C. 55 Bypass into a synchronized design. Town officials are pleased with the success.
“The travel time along the corridor was cut in about half. That was a huge success,” said Kendra Parrish, director of engineering for the Town of Holly Springs.
Before the changes, pedestrians could not safely cross the road, but now they have crosswalks and refuge islands to await their turn. In addition, the improved traffic flow has allowed truck drivers to more easily make deliveries to businesses and pull back out onto the road.
In Moore County, elected officials in 2015 approved the concept of a synchronized street after they rejected a proposal to build a bypass around Southern Pines. Since then, NCDOT staff has listened to their feedback on the concept and included more U-turns, left-turn locations and conventional intersections with traffic signals.
Brandon Jones, the Division 8 Engineer based in Aberdeen, said traffic growth projections show that U.S. 1 will need a six-lane synchronized street by 2040, but building a four-lane roadway now gives officials time to identify other ways to manage future traffic growth.
“This is an important interim solution that’s needed to improve these two routes,” Jones said, “Simply put, a synchronized street is safer and is more effective at accommodating the traffic that we are experiencing today and the growth that is coming over the next decade.”