MILLINGPORT — The N.C. Department of Transportation has opted to continue with a controversial plan to convert an intersection at N.C. Hwy. 73 and Millingport Road into a four-way stop with stop signs.
The safety-driven decision was announced last week in a DOT press release indicating the first day of the new traffic stop would be June 28, weather permitting. The intersection currently requires traffic on Millingport Road to stop, but not the traffic on N.C. 73.
While initial plans were halted due to a public response against the move earlier this year, the move was reopened over the past month and is now enacted. DOT representatives spoke at the Stanly County Board of Commissioners budget meeting on June 21 about the proposed four-way stop, addressing some questions and concerns from commissioners.
County Chairman Tommy Jordan has been an outspoken critic of the plan since the DOT began indicating that the four-way stop was on the way.
“I think this four-way stop sign is a stupid idea for a variety of reasons,” Jordan said in a social media video posted on June 14. “If you’re trying to turn left onto the Millingport extension from the gas station, you’re not likely to get out. If you’re trying to turn right from the 73 exit from the gas station, you’re not likely to get out. If you’re trying to turn left, you also can’t get out because the guy in front of you is trying to go right. There’s all kinds of reasons why that’s just a bad idea in my opinion, but DOT considers that the worst intersection in Stanly County — I do not understand why.”
In his video post, the chairman advised concerned citizens to contact Lee Snuggs — director of the Rocky River Rural Planning Organization — or Commissioner Peter Asciutto, a RRPPO board member, who has advocated for the new four-way stop. Jordan added in a separate post that if a change were going to be made at that intersection, he would have preferred stoplights.
“They [DOT] still want to choose to pursue the AWS (all-way-stop) with the long-term solution of possibly looking at a roundabout,” he wrote. “Considering the cost of a roundabout is about $2 million, and a stop light is $150k, I still can’t see the feasibility in this idea, but I’m going to have to assume there’s some kind of logic there that no one’s bothering to explain. The road has too little traffic for a stoplight that costs $150k, but it’s totally appropriate for a roundabout that costs $2 million and will require eminent domain seizures, I’d imagine?”
During a recent presentation to the commissioners given by DOT engineer Pate Butler, she provided information pertaining to the intersection’s safety levels. There have been 24 car crashes at that location over the past decade, including two crashes that have led to severe, life-threatening injuries.
The DOT has placed message boards on both sides of N.C. 73 approaching the intersection to advise motorists about the change and follow standard right-of-way laws when turning or driving straight.