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home : opinion : e-opinion January 20, 2022

10/18/2021 1:18:00 PM
Lights Go On at NC16 & Optimist Club Road
Traffic from westbound Optimist Club Road wanting to turn onto NC16 (bypass) south toward Charlotte will still have to make a right turn, then a left, before again turning left onto NC16.
Traffic from westbound Optimist Club Road wanting to turn onto NC16 (bypass) south toward Charlotte will still have to make a right turn, then a left, before again turning left onto NC16.

L. Wayne Howard
Staff Writer

The project cost nearly $300,000. It was funded by High Impact/Low Cost, a program established in 2017 “to provide funds to complete low-cost projects with high impact to the transportation system, including intersection improvement projects. Sometime--construction currently isn't scheduled to begin until 2024--an interchange that will have intersection traffic passing over or under is planned.

For now, the multitude of traffic lights at the intersection of NC16 (bypass) and Optimist Club Road, scheduled to become operational this week, will hopefully reduce the number of collisions at the intersection (we'll wait and see).

NCDOT records show that from 2015 to 2019 there were over a hundred crashes there. The intersection ranked second in the number of collisions to the intersection of NC16-business and NC73. The big difference is that many of the crashes at Optimist Club Road were much more serious.

There are many problems with the changes to the intersection. Perhaps the most important one is that traffic from Optimist Club Road wanting to make a left turn still has to make a right turn, then a left across oncoming lanes, to get onto NC16. Currently, left turning traffic has to stop at a stop sign. With the changes, there'll be a traffic signal.

In other words, the changes to the intersection dont' change at all what's necessary for traffic. Going from Optimist Club Road onto NC16 in what would at most places be a left turn still requires that 'turn right, then left' maneuver. The one and only improvement that matters is that the traffic on NC16 may be slowed or stopped to make access to the highway a little safer.

Another is that anyone wanting to go straight through on Optimist Club Road (either from the west or east) will have to do the same 'turn right, then left' before making a right turn onto Optimist Club Road.

Perhaps the most important flaw in the design is that it turns what amounts to an interstate type highway into a city street intersection. The speed limit has been reduced to 55, but on Monday (Oct. 18th) most of the through traffic was traveling 70 mph or more. The speed limit before the approach to the intersection is 65, and more vehicles are traveling 70-75 than are going less than 65 mph.

1 - Rock Fitness 2021

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