Village to Hold Public Workshop on Western Connector
The Pinehurst Village Council will hold a public workshop Wednesday to get feedback on a potential route for a western connector to bypass the congested N.C. 211-Pinehurst Traffic Circle-N.C. 5 areas.
It will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Assembly Hall. The format will probably involve splitting up attendees into three teams to work with members of an advisory committee.
The western connector would start at N.C. 211 east of Foxfire Village, run through Pinehurst and Aberdeen and connect with U.S. 1-15-501 in Aberdeen. The corridor would travel generally west of N.C. 5, paralleling it but possibly taking several different paths between the beginning and end.
The amount of traffic is increasing on N.C. 211 because of the growth of Seven Lakes and Foxfire Village areas. Much of that traffic comes through the five-legged Traffic Circle onto U.S. 15-501 to commercial areas in the southern part of the county.
The Kimley-Horn consulting traffic engineering firm of Raleigh has been working with the village and an advisory committee of planners from Foxfire Village, Aberdeen and the county, as well as some large landowners in the area, since the proposed connector would cut through several government jurisdictions.
"It's in a very preliminary stage," said Mike Rutkowski of the consulting firm. The feasibility study began almost a year ago.
Rutkowski said the timetable calls for completing a final draft of the plan by next February for council consideration and approval. He envisions a four-lane highway with a divided median.
"They're on board," he said of the advisory committee, "but to get the project done, you have to do it collectively."
He urged the council to begin doing some "lobbying and persuasion," to build support for the project.
Protect Right of Way
The immediate impact would be to at least protect right of way along a chosen proposed corridor in Pinehurst's jurisdiction from development. The N.C. Depart-ment of Transportation would build the road if funding is available.
Village Engineer Jay Gibson said he is unaware of any current measures to protect proposed rights of way in the village's jurisdiction.
"A locally based corridor protection plan will, 95 percent of the time, prompt developers to work with the village to avoid protected rights of way," he said.
A right of way protection plan can be good for three years, according to the consultants, allowing the Village Council to deny development proposals that would infringe on these areas without adverse legal consequences.
Traffic has increased heavily on the two-lane N.C. 5, which passes through several Pinehurst Resort golf courses. It runs from N.C. 211 in Pinehurst to U.S. 1 in Aberdeen.
Residential areas continue to grow on the southwestern edge of Pinehurst. The Moore County Alcohol Beverage Control Board also opened an ABC store on N.C. 5, which has attracted more traffic.
Rutkowski told the council, in presenting a progress report at a meeting last week, that in the past three years, N.C. 5 had an accident rate of 244 for every million miles traveled, higher than the state's average of 191.
During the same period, N.C. 211 in Moore County had an accident rate of 160, well below the state average.
Should a proposed connector pass muster of the various local government jurisdictions, officials cannot say for certain whether the NCDOT fund it.
NCDOT Division Engineer Tim Johnson, who attended the meeting, said "there's no money" for the project now. It will probably be necessary in the future for local governments to do their own feasibility studies and right of way protection and acquisition themselves, instead of the NCDOT, as is the case now. The NCDOT would build the road.
"We will do what we can to help," Johnson added.
The Nov. 8 workshop is designed to "validate" the need for the project, Rutkowski told the council.
The village needs to do something to relieve the traffic congestion on N.C. 5, especially along narrower parts of the existing route.
"We need a better plan than to inundate the highway with signals," Rutkowski said.
Measures need to be taken to keep N.C. 5 as a "functioning, viable facility in the next 10 to 15 years," he said.
"With our study, we need to avoid wetlands, historic structures and protected longleaf pine areas and endangered red cockaded woodpecker habitat," he said.
Village, county, Foxfire and Seven Lakes leaders have been talking about ways to reduce congestion at the Traffic Circle for years.
Last year, the council hired Kimley-Horn to develop a feasibility and engineering plan for a western connector.
Sara Lindau can be reached at 693-2473 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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