Board backs signal push

Chase Jordan / Sampson Independent Sampson County School officials listen to a presentation from Alice Butler, a Roseboro town board member, regarding N.C. Highway 24.

As a mother in the Lakewood District, Alice Butler said plans for a U-turn at the intersection of N.C. Highway 24 and 242 “makes the hair stand up on her arms and gives her chills.”

“Do we really think children are going to be able to maneuver the new design as they’re trying to get to school on time,” Butler, a member of the Roseboro town board, said while addressing the Sampson County Board of Education Monday night.

During a Monday meeting, Butler, who severs as Roseboro’smayor pro tem, made a presentation to the school board regarding plans from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to construct a U-turn with no signalization. As a result, the Sampson County Board of Education is backing a proposal to make changes for upcoming construction by having Superintendent Dr. Eric Bracy write a letter in support of town officials and residents who want to see a traffic signal instead of a U-turn located there.

While presenting, Butler said the superstreet will be going around the town in the next couple of years. One issue with the intersection is the speed limit and students, teachers and parents having to cross two lanes of traffic, making a U-turn, and crossing into two more lanes to access NC 242.

“All of this is without any signalization,” Butler asserted. “I fear, like many who have talked with me, that this is a recipe for disaster. The last thing any one of us want is to see someone hurt or even worse, someone killed, becuase of a design of a highway.”

She continued by saying that failure to place stop signals at the intersection will certainly place hundreds of students, teachers, parents, farmers, residents and tourists who travel Highway 242 between Roseboro in Salemburg in danger. The current intersection is about half a mile south of the bypass.

Butler also noted that the current N.C. 24 has two travel lanes, with a center turning lane, and the speed limit is only 35 mph with a traffic signal.

“Clearly if a light is needed there going 35 mph, and it is, it will be needed even more at the Superstreet 24 intersection for traffic moving at speeds greater than 55 mph,” Butler said.

Like many others, she believes the designs may be OK for minor intersections, but can be a problem if implemented.

“I would appreciate your help in trying to get the DOT to change their plans now while they still can, rather than after a specified number of accidents,” she implored the board. “Not to mention that it’ll be less expensive to put signals in now rather than later.”

She encouraged board members and others to contact state officials about the concern and bring awareness to the issue.

Before the official vote was made for Bracy to address the DOT, board chairman Dewain Sinclair said his colleagues should put their support behind Roseboro, its citizen and community members of the Lakewood District.

“It seems to me that we need to put our support behind this, not only for our students, but for all of the citizens of the area,” Sinclair said. “That could be a very dangerous intersection.”

In the Lakewood District, the intersection leads motorists to schools in Roseboro and Salemburg. Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School and Roseboro Elementary are south of Highway 242. Lakewood High School and Salemburg Elementary are on the north.

Board member Telfair Simpson brought up the issues during a previous work session and presented a letter written by Roseboro Mayor David Alexander and addressed to Karen Collette, division engineer for NC DOT. In the letter, Alexander mentioned how both the new Superstreet Highway 24 and NC 242 are heavily traveled roads in the morning and afternoons.

“Most local citizens are shocked to learn that only a a U-turn is planned at this extremely busy and hazardous intersection,” Alexander previously stated. “We fear it is an accident waiting to happen and the last thing we want, or the Department wants, is an accident or even worse, a fatality.”