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Input sought on N.C. 43 South widening proposal

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Cars go through the traffic light at the intersection of Worthington Road and NC Highway 43 on Friday afternoon March 15, 2019. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Public input is being sought on a proposal to widen N.C. 43 from Fire Tower Road to the intersection of Worthington/Mills roads.

A public meeting is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on Tuesday so the public can review and comment on preliminary plans for the 3-mile project. The meeting will take place at the Pitt County Council of Aging, 4551 County Home Road.

The project would create a four-lane highway with raised median beginning just south of Bell Fork Road to slightly south of the intersection with Worthington and Mills roads.

The preliminary design would close access to N.C. 43 from Bell Fork Road. It has approximately five “reduced conflict intersections” along the raised median, said Casey Whitley, NCDOT Division 2 project engineer. The design prevents left-hand turns out of most driveways, he said. Instead vehicles turn right and travel to protected turn lanes were they can turn left.

“They are intersections that are simplified to move travel safer and quicker,” Whitley said. “They reduce the number of locations where vehicles can collide by more than half.”

The number of protected intersections may change as the project’s design is finalized, he said.

It is proposed that curbs and gutters be installed between Fire Tower Road and Fox Trot Lane. If an agreement is reached with the city of Greenville, 5-foot sidewalks also are being considered.

Between Fox Trot Lane and the southern end of the project, a 4-foot paved shoulder is being proposed with a 12-foot inside lane and a 14-foot outside lane to accommodate bicyclists.

Project designers are especially interested in getting input on how intersections at N.C. 43 and Signature Drive, and N.C. 43 and Worthington/Mills roads would be designed.

There are design options with traditional signal lights as well as options that deploy two-lane roundabouts.

“Right now they are signalized intersections, so to keep traffic flowing that’s why we are looking at potential roundabouts there,” he said. “Roundabouts are the safest intersections we can build, they lower speeds, present less conflict points and you can’t run through them like a stoplight.”

Since 2005, the project has been a priority for the Greenville Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional planning group with members representing the city of Greenville, the towns of Winterville and Ayden, the village of Simpson and surrounding areas of unincorporated Pitt County.

The project was added earlier this year to the State Transportation Improvement Program for right of way acquisition in 2021 and construction in 2023.

The section of highway has annual average daily traffic counts of between 20,000-23,000 daily, Whitley said.

The project’s preliminary cost is $30.2 million, with preliminary right-of-way acquisition costs of $1.85 million and construction costs of an estimated $27.6 million.

Right-of-Way acquisition is tentatively set to begin in spring of 2021. Construction is slated for spring of 2023. Both could occur sooner, Whitley said, but that won’t be known until the project is further along.

Individuals can visit https://publicinput.com/NC43-Charles-Blvd to review maps and additional project details.

Individuals who are unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting but want to submit comments about the project can do through the above website or by sending mail or an email to: Casey Whitley NCDOT Division 2 project engineer; 1037 W.H. Smith Blvd., Greenville, NC 27835 or ckwhitley@ncdot.gov, or Anne Lenart-Redmond, consultant transportation planning director, at anne.lenart-redmond@stvinc.com.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.