DOT offers to eliminate left turns to fix highway woes

Residents, businesses have concerns

Posted

Nearly a dozen residents turned out to voice their concerns in a public forum before the Mount Olive Town Board of Commissioners last week on a safety issue at Bert Martin Road and N.C. Highway 55.

Residents, led by James Kornegay earlier, asked the town to request the N.C. Department of Transportation to review the issue.

DOT responded with a proposal to eliminate left turns off Bert Martin Road on both sides of Highway 55.

Instead, traffic would be required to make right turns, travel a short distance and then make U-turns to go left.

Residents last week called it a short term, “Band-Aid” approach.

The area has been targeted for major change with the extension of Interstate 795 through Mount Olive, but District DOT Engineer Sam Lawhorn said that is probably 10 years away.

He admitted to concerned residents it is a “Band-Aid approach,” but it is also DOT’s proposed assistance under the funding available.

He said he will need a resolution from the town supporting the proposal.

Concerns were also registered by motel owners Kevin and Stephanie Kornegay, and automobile sales owner Michael Kornegay.

They questioned the impact of DOT’s proposal on their business.

Lawhorn told the Tribune the timeframe for eliminating the left turns is probably sometime next summer.

James Kornegay, Ray McDonald Jr. and Gary Darden were among those who shared concerns.

Darden, who lives in the area and makes the current left turn there on a daily basis, said the issue needs to be resolved before someone gets killed.

Mayor Joe Scott said he sees a need to contact state legislators to see if there is a way to find needed funding for something more than a Band-Aid fix.

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