DOT reduces speed limit on Pugh cut-through

By Chris Berendt

June 6, 2014

The speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph on Pugh Road, the frequently-used cut-over between U.S. 701 Business and N.C. 403 (Faison Highway), the N.C. Department of Transportation has confirmed.

The state action came on the heels of speed limit concerns voiced by residents to city officials earlier this year regarding state-maintained Pugh Road. They said vehicles and large trucks were traveling in excess speeds on the road, where homes are located and residents have to back out of their driveways.

In April, the City Council adopted a resolution seeking a reduced limit from 55 to 35 mph on the road. That adopted resolution followed a speed study conducted by the Clinton Police Department and recommendations by Police Chief Jay Tilley and city manager Shawn Purvis to adopt the resolution, which the Council did unanimously. A copy of that resolution was forwarded to DOT.

The DOT’s Division Traffic Engineer Katie Hite recently responded, acknowledging that DOT agreed the speed limit should be changed upon performing an engineering investigation. The DOT ultimately decided to lower the limit to 45 mph, splitting the difference between the current limit and the city’s request.

Hite detailed the state’s speed study in coming to that conclusion.

The study, she stated, included evaluating road characteristics, existing conditions, the surrounding environment and calculating the “85th percentile speed,” the speed at which 85 percent of the sampled vehicles travel which is used to determine the speed limit.

“The majority of drivers operate their vehicles at a speed that is comfortable without strict enforcement, regardless of the signage. On Pugh Road, the 85th percentile speed, measured in two locations, was 53 mph within the 55 zone, indicating that this is the speed that most drivers consider reasonable,” Hite stated. “There are multiple driveways from both businesses and residences along Pugh Road and their presence factored into our study.”

Based on the findings, DOT recommended a speed limit of 45 mph for Pugh Road for the segment between N.C. 403 and the City of Clinton corporate limits, located approximately 0.18-mile northeast of U.S. 701 Business. There is a 0.06-mile segment of Pugh Road near N.C. 403 within the city corporate limits that requires the DOT and the city to enact concurring ordinances for that section, Hite noted.

Council subsequently adopted a resolution amending the Official Traffic Map to reduce the speed on Pugh Road within the City of Clinton corporate limits.

After assessing the area, DOT also determined that will the existing “City limits” sign on southbound Pugh Road approaching U.S. 701 Business should be moved approximately 0.14 mile towards the northeast, which would mean that the 35 mph section would be extended for a longer portion of the road.

“This action will thus extend the municipal 35 mph zone to encompass that southern segment of Pugh Road (off U.S. 701 Business),” Hite stated. New signs will be erected in the near future.

“It may take several weeks for the enactment of the ordinance by the Department of Transportation,” she remarked, “at which time we will install the 45 mph signs.”

Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137 ext. 121. Follow us on twitter @SampsonInd.