Millingport Road four-way stop may become roundabout, DOT says

Published 9:21 am Monday, July 18, 2022

The addition of a four-way stop on N.C. Highway 73 and Millingport Road has been the subject of much discussion for citizens and public officials.

Presentations have been made before the Stanly County Board of Commissioners and the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) regarding the need for a four-way stop to reduce frontal-impact crashes.

At a meeting of the commissioners last week, a DOT engineer made a presentation about the possibility of turning the four-way stop into a roundabout.

Sean Epperson, NCDOT division project engineer, gave a presentation after the recent implementation of a four-way stop.

The intersection was the highest on the DOT’s list in terms of crash rates, Epperson said. The four-way stop “was something we could get in quickly (and was) inexpensive but was able to address the crash pattern,” Epperson said.

A roundabout is another option, he added, to address a crash pattern on two-lane, two-way roadways.

Epperson said roundabouts help traffic move more quickly, but do have some negatives. The positives include increased traffic capacity (30 to 50 percent) and traffic is not required to stop, only yield.

One negative, he said, is that roundabouts “do not address crash patterns as well as an all-way stop.” Any incidents which happen in a roundabout are less severe, but roundabouts will have more crashes.

The reason DOT is now considering a roundabout as an option, Epperson said, is N.C. 73 is a “primary route” which has a lot of truck traffic on it.

Overall cost for a roundabout will be $3 million, he said, but the DOT has identified a revenue source for it, which he later stated was from “high-impact, low-cost funds.” The source requires a resolution from county commissioners in support of the project to get the funds obligated and is worth $1.3 million per year, which would be enough to get the project started and would eventually fund it over the expected three years of building a roundabout.

Commissioner Peter Asciutto said a four-way stop is safer and less expensive than a traffic signal.

A signal, Epperman said, does not help as much because “95 percent of the time (drivers) are not expecting it to be red” so they run a red light. He used the example of a signal at the intersection of N.C. Highways 218 and 200 in Union County, saying two fatalities have happened in the past five years. Those crashes have led to a new roundabout for it coming next year.

Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked about putting in rumble strips, to which Epperman said the problem was the loud noise made when vehicles go over them, bothering nearby residents. He added, “I like that you found the money without charging taxpayers again.”

County Manager Andy Lucas asked if the board wanted to have a resolution on next month’s agenda to vote on in support of the roundabout, which the board agreed.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio was the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press from 1999-2001 and has currently served in the same capacity since 2008. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also been honored four times by the North Carolina Press Association.

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