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By Erin Smith

The North Carolina Department of Transportation conducted a public meeting on Tuesday evening at Bladen Community College regarding a proposed roundabout to be constructed at the intersection of NC 410 and NC 41. According to Jim Dunlop, who is with NCDOT, the intersection had a high accident rate which led to the decision to change the intersection.

The purpose of the meeting was to receive public input regarding the roundabout and to present preliminary designs for the project to the public. A comment sheet was provided and those in attendance were encouraged to place comments in a comment box.

The intersection has seen numerous crashes that resulted in serious injuries and fatalities over the years, according to Dunlop. From October 2009 through September 2014, the intersection had 19 crashes which resulted in injuries. The rounadabout project was requested in July 2016.

“We’ve had a crash issue out here. It is why we went to a four way stop,” explained Dunlop.

He said a roundabout is safer as it slows the traffic down as it approaches and enters the intersection. The traffic in the proposed roundabout will flow to the right and the roundabout keeps the traffic moving reducing backups and delays.

Dunlop said the intersection has been converted to a four way stop until the roundabout can be completed. The schedule for construction calls for the right-of-way acquisition process to begin in April 2018 and actual construction will not begin until May 2019.

The proposed roundabout is estimated to cost $1.1 million to construct and the right-of-way acquisition is expected to cost another $100,000 bringing the total project cost to $1.2 million.

Sandy Lewis and his sister Marion Lewis attended the meeting. They said they received a notification in the mail from NC DOT regarding the meeting. They both thought the roundabout was a good idea.

“Nobody wants to stop (at the stop signs). You have to look to be sure people are going to stop,” said Mrs. Lewis of the current intersection.

Bladen Community College President Dr. William Findt stopped by the information session to look over the plans. He says the staff at the college have noticed a difference in the traffic.

“Since they have put up the stop signs, we have noticed at the college much slower traffic on NC 41,” said Dr. Findt. “We like the idea of the roundabout.”

He said with students entering and exiting the campus, the slower traffic on NC 41 makes it much safer.

Not everyone was so happy. Ronald Huggins owns a parcel of land located adjacent to the intersection.

“Its going to mess up my commercial property. You’re only going to be able to turn right going in and right going out (from his property),” said Huggins.

Others said they have reservations about the proposal but will support it.

Gene Lockamy said he likes the idea of a roundabout better than the current four way stop. He added if DOT will install flashing lights to alert the public to the traffic pattern change once the roundabout is installed, it will help, as well.

West Bladen High School Principal Peggy Hester said the roundabout won’t be impacting the school. Hester said everyone leaving the high school’s campus must exit to the right only. They do not allow their bus or vehicle traffic to travel to the intersection. Instead, all traffic leaving campus goes to Center Road and then they may go either right or left or continue on towards Bladenboro.

She added she has noticed an improvement when she must travel to the intersection. “The four way stop has helped with the traffic,” said Hester.

Residents who were unable to attend Tuesday’s information session have until February 27th to submit their comments. You can submit your comments to Project Manager Sean Matuszewski, NCDOT Division 6, Division Engineer, P. O. Box 1150, Fayetteville, NC 28302 or via email at spmatuszewski@ncdot.gov.