Richfield project will not include roundabout, DOT reps say

Members of the Department of Transportation met with the Richfield Town Commissioners Monday night to clarify the purpose of a new project planned for the town.

Lee Snuggs, director of the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization, along with Division 10 Planning Engineer Stuart Basham, spoke to the board.

Snuggs apologized to the board, saying his comments regarding a roundabout for the intersection of U.S. Highway 52 and N.C. Highway 49 in Richfield were “very premature,” adding the conversation should have happened with council members in closed session.

In his remarks, Basham said a project has been submitted for approval, but the details include intersection improvements and not a roundabout.

“The intersection improvement project basically is line striping, improved signal heads, crosswalk and pedestrian improvements (and) painted signals,” Basham said.

Projects of this type basically look for short terms goals in five to 10 years and long-term goals in a 20- to 25-year time frame. As a matter of routine practice, Basham said, DOT does not bring the long-term goals to town boards since the projects are predicated on assumptions which can change over time and are changed every two to three years.

“It’s not an attempt to shield anything from the board…it’s really more a matter of evaluating what happens over time. If you get growth and the employment base to where we think it’s going to happen, and we see those traffic volumes continue to rise, then we get to the point, five to 10 years out, to do a project like that,” Basham said.

Commissioner Jason Ritter asked about the council’s repeated efforts to have speed reductions in parts of the town from 45 to 35 miles per hour. Basham said a speed study looks at average travel speeds in town and the number of crashes and the severity of those events. The process goes into a matrix which then determines if a reduction or increase in speed would affect the number of crashes.

Ritter said the board was told there was “not enough sufficient data” to support a speed decrease on a request made in August.

Mayor Terry Deese asked about the possibility of getting turn arrows at the intersection of Highway 52 and Highway 49. DOT representatives said it was something that could be talked about for the town.