With construction under way for an improved N.C. Highway 24, traffic safety in the Lakewood School District is becoming a concern, particularly among school board members and residents, many who pushing installation of a traffic signal over other proposed ideas by the state.
The worries are centered around the intersection of N.C. 24 and state Highway 242. Currently, future plans from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) call for a U-turn with no signalization in that area. During a Tuesday morning work session for the Sampson County Board of Education, member Telfair Simpson talked about the issue.
“The DOT considers that a minor intersection, so they’re not going to put a traffic light there, it’s going to be a U-turn,” Simpson stressed while addressing the flow of traffic, which includes merging into oncoming traffic and making a U-turn to access NC 242.
“That’s all of our buses, our students and our parents traveling to and from school and work,” Simpson said regarding Roseboro and Salemburg residents who travel that stretch of roadway. “The town of Roseboro, their board and their citizens feel that it’s a major intersection.”
Residents opposed to the idea believe that the intersection deserves a traffic signal.
“A lot of people are upset that this is happening,” Simpson said referring to the plans for construction.
Roseboro city officials are making a request for DOT to reconsider the U-turn development. He distributed a letter written by David Alexander, mayor of Roseboro. Alexander’s letter was addressed to Karen Collette, division engineer for NC DOT.
“As you know, the new Superstreet Highway 24 will be a heavily traveled road,” Alexander stated. “The speed limit may be 55 but we have concerns that traffic could be traveling much faster.State Highway 242 is also heavily traveled, especially in the morning and afternoons with students, teachers, parents, buses, etc. traveling to the local schools and work.”
In the western portion of Sampson County, the intersection leads to schools in the towns of Roseboro and Salemburg. Lakewood High School and Salemburg Elementary are on the north side. Roseboro-Salemburg Middle School and Roseboro Elementary are south of Highway 242.
“Most local citizens are shocked to learn that only a U-turn is planned at this extremely busy and hazardous intersection,” Alexander stated. “We fear it is an accident waiting to happen and the last thing we want, or the Department of Transportation wants, is an accident or even worse, a fatality.”
The mayor, in his letter, discussed a brochure from NC DOT stating that the superstreet has a “a type of intersection in which minor cross-street traffic is prohibited from going straight through or left at a divided highway intersection.”
“The Town of Roseboro contends that there is major traffic at this intersection, not minor,” Alexander said.
In the letter, the mayor also brought up an article mentioning the installation of superstreets across the state not being hazardous. But Alexander and Roseboro officials have a different opinion about the intersection.
Simpson said the county’s Board ofEducation was asked to write a letter supporting signalization instead of the planned U-turn.
“There’s a potential or risk of danger there,” school board chairman Dewain Sinclair interjected. “We need to put our support behind it for our students and everyone involved in the community.”
There was a consensus among the board members to discuss the matter in more detail during an upcoming meeting.
Alice Butler, Roseboro mayor pro tem, is expected to make a presentation to the board during that meeting, slated for 7 p.m. Monday, April 27 at the Central Office Auditorium, 437 Rowan Road.