Stanly commissioners lend support to DOT project near Oakboro

Published 9:08 am Thursday, January 19, 2023

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At Tuesday’s meeting of the Stanly County Board of Commissioners, the board unanimously passed a resolution supporting a new four-way stop and future roundabout for an Oakboro area intersection.

The intersection of N.C. Highway 205 and Big Lick/Liberty Hill Church Road has been selected by the North Carolina Department of Transportation as a site for an all-way stop.

Travis Preslar from the District 10 NCDOT office in Albemarle presented the resolution for approval to the board. In the presentation, Preslar noted traffic on the side streets (Big Lick and Liberty Hill Church Road) having to wait for gaps in the mainline traffic on N.C. 205. The intersection also does not have a left turn lane for traffic turning off N.C. 205 in either direction.

Preslar said the intersection had 15 crashes from Nov. 1, 2015 to Oct. 31, 2020, including seven angles, three left-turn and one head-on crash.

The proposed four-way stop would be the first of two phases for the project, Preslar said, and would mitigate angle and left-turn crashes, or 10 of the 15 crashes in the cited time.

He said the project should be done by the spring.

As far as the roundabout in the second phase, which Preslar called the “final improvement,” the project may not be constructed until late 2025 or early 2026. He called the roundabout “a proven safety measure.”

Commissioner Bill Lawhon asked if residents next to the proposed traffic projects have been contacted. Preslar said he was not aware.

“We do engage in various levels of public involvement when we do just about any project,” Preslar said.

He said DOT is communicating with the Oakboro Express Mart, which has expressed plans to do future work.

“We will continue that as well as approach other property owners in the project limits,” Preslar said.

In answering a question from Lawhon about a barber shop near the project, Preslar said he did not anticipate any structures or businesses would be taken for the acquisition and implementation of the project.

“In the past, we haven’t had any of these items presented to us. Is this something new that you all are going to start doing?” Lawhon asked.

Preslar said DOT would like to provide that if the board wanted that type of involvement.

“We want to involve everybody we can in projects,” Preslar said. “Our projects are not secrets. We want people to provide input. We want people to support our projects because we are here to deliver safety and efficiency improvements to our transportation system.”

Commissioner Brandon King asked if DOT would proceed with the project whether or not the board approved it.

“Well, we always want your support,” Preslar said.

King mentioned the Millingport four-way stop and quoted another commissioner who said DOT “did not seek any support” for that project.

“It felt like the state tried to throw it back to the commissioners in some degree,” King said. “Is this a go regardless?”

“We definitely want to bring solutions to the issues we have on our transportation system,” Preslar said. “Sometimes, we get varying levels of support. We would want to work with you if you had concerns and didn’t feel like you could support this.”

Preslar said the next step would be for DOT and other stakeholders in the project to come together and “see if we could address those concerns.”

King asked if there has been a “change from the Millingport situation, where we had no conversation, to now where we want to have a conversation.”

Preslar said he was not involved in the Millingport project but was aware of it.

“It was an issue which was of great concern to many people,” Preslar said. “That’s unfortunate, but we absolutely want to move forward with this project.”

Speaking about representing commissioners on the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization board, Commissioner Peter Asciutto said the RRRPO talked for and asked for feedback “for more than a year…it’s not like it was a hidden thing. There was ample information out there. Then, all of a sudden, a few people made a fuss at the last minute. That’s what caused the whole thing to go on out.”

Asciutto mentioned the roundabout was mentioned because of the additional truck traffic coming with the future opening of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry nearby.

“The DOT does listen to people. I don’t want them to be thrown under the bus. I’ve seen them make adjustments when they get feedback from people,” Asciutto said.

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. 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 won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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