Another stoplight won’t be that costly

We aren’t sure why it’s so difficult to get needed stoplights in Sampson County, but it seems to be an ongoing issue that pits us against the Department of Transportation at every turn.

It took years to get a traffic signal at the Forest Drive and Sampson Community College entrance, an area that was prone to bad accidents. Then, for a brief moment, we thought the DOT might actually take it away as they prepared plans for the widening of N.C. 24. Thankfully smarter heads prevailed and the light is staying, but it didn’t come without some resistance.

Now talk is focused around erection of a traffic signal along N.C. 24, where it intersects with Coharie Drive and Fox Lake Drive, another area that, since the widening project has begun, has grown increasingly hazardous.

We can understand residents’ fears for their safety and the safety of their loved ones as they attempt left turns out of those two subdivisions. It’s a dangerous area that could, we fear, turn deadly. And it merits not just a study by the DOT, but action.

Current N.C. 24 widening plans do not include a traffic signal at that location, but City Council was recently told by DOT officials that the area would be evaluated and findings should be completed within the next 30 days.

“This intersection is being studied in its currently designed configuration as a full movement intersection, and will be evaluated with a superstreet design, having directional left turns from N.C. 24 into Fox Lake and Coharie Drive, with no left turns allowed out of those side streets,” noted DOT Division engineer Karen E. Collette in a letter to Council.

If left turns aren’t allowed out of Fox Lake and Coharie, then it seems the need for a stoplight becomes a moot point, but the DOT needs to be certain they stick with that plan if they choose to ignore residents’ pleas for a traffic signal.

What we don’t want to see is a decision against a DOT erected stoplight followed by a change in plan that would, in fact, allow left turns out of the subdivisions.

The two decisions should go hand-in-hand and, if left turns are allowed, then a light is clearly warranted and should be erected. It’s as simple as that.

We don’t see long studies as necessary. It doesn’t take rocket science or someone sitting in a car all day counting the number of cars that go by to determine the dangers that exist there. All it takes is attempting to make one of those lefts, just once.

The time and money spent on the analysis could be used to help pay for the light.

What’s more, the DOT shouldn’t place the onus for a stoplight on the city of Clinton’s plate, offering the caveat with it’s analysis proposal that should the DOT decide a light isn’t warranted City Council could opt to have one installed at the city’s expense.

That isn’t an expenditure the city should have to shoulder.

We hope DOT officials will work quickly to simply determine if a need for left turns out of Coharie Drive or Fox Lake will happen. If it turns out the answer is yes, then add one more stoplight to the plan. We can’t imagine in the scheme of things it will shoot the cost of a multi-million project out of reach.