Improvements coming to two lake intersections

Example of traffic flow at a Reduced-Conflict Intersection (Courtesy DOT)
Example of traffic flow at a Reduced-Conflict Intersection (Courtesy DOT)

Two troublesome intersections at Lake Waccamaw will see temporary improvements before major changes take place next year.

The Department of Transportation announced today (Friday) that Chaunceytown Road and U.S. 74-76, and Old Lake Road at U.S. 74-76 Intrastate, will see reduced conflict intersections installed in the next few months. 

RCIs prevent drivers from directly crossing a road. Motorists will have to turn right at either intersection, then merge to a turn lane if they’re heading left. RCIs significantly reduce traffic crashes.

The design will replace the traditional intersections at Chauncey Town Road and Old Lake Road, which are just over a mile apart. The $1.8 million contract went to Barnhill Contracting Co. of Rocky Mount, which is expected to start construction in June and complete the improvements by October.

Multiple crashes have occurred at both intersections through the years, including a number of fatal crashes. Most wrecks occur when motorists from Chaunceytown or Old Lake pull into the path of oncoming traffic, resulting in so-called “T-bone” crashes. 

The Reduced conflict Intersection design includes concrete traffic islands and raised medians that redirect side-street motorists into turning right. Even if they want to go in the opposite direction, they go right first, then merge and turn into a dedicated lane.

Under the design, drivers on U.S. 74/76 will continue to be able to turn left or right at either intersection.
DOT has been using the RCI pattern for years, with substantial reductions in crashes at intersections across the state. One area crossing, that of MLK Boulevard at N.C. 87 in Elizabethtown, had six fatal crashes in the year before an RCI was installed. Since then, no fatal crashes have occurred there due to motorists crossing the highway.

The RCI improvements will only be temporary, however. Starting next year, construction will begin to remake the Chaunceytown Road intersection into an interstate-style interchange like those at Hallsboro and Bolton. The project will  include a bridge going over the highway for through traffic, and on/off ramps. As part of the same project, Old Lake Road will become an overpass. 

DOT will then tackle major improvements from Old Lake to N.C. 214 (Sam Potts Highway) down to Chaunceytown at Sam Potts in Lake Waccamaw.  The improvements will be needed to manage anticipated higher traffic counts through the town. 

The RCI designs will be built this year as the first phase of traffic control for the permanent improvements to the two intersections. A contract for the permanent improvements is scheduled to be awarded in June 2022.
You can view a DOT video about Reduced conflict Intersections by clicking on the link below.

About Jefferson Weaver 1973 Articles
Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].