EDITORIAL: Around and Around on the Roundabout
Why does the village of Pinehurst keep pushing its proposal to build an unpopular traffic roundabout for which no pressing need has been demonstrated?
Architectural review experts with the N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and the N.C. Office of Historic Preservation acknowledge that the project at the intersection of N.C. 2 and Carolina Vista "would adversely affect" the historic nature of Pinehurst.
Opponents also point out that the NCDOT says traffic flows do not warrant such a project. They argue forcefully that the project would do more harm than good and that it would destroy sections of the beautiful Marshall Park -- owned by Pinehurst Resort -- and some of its century-old majestic pines. So why go ahead with it?
Has Need Been Demonstrated?
Proponents say a memorandum of agreement signed off on by NCDOT and the N.C. Historical Commission, with concurrence by the village and Pinehurst Resort, will mitigate those negative effects.
The state, they say, will replant areas in Marshall Park when a 600-foot section of N.C. 2 is realigned to the south -- which would move the proposed roundabout closer to the entrance of the Pinehurst Country Club. This shift would be carried out to avoid disturbing the lot of a historic home at the northwest corner of the present intersection of N.C. 2 and Carolina Vista.
Opponents aren't buying that. They say that simply replanting trees and other landscaping pales in comparison to the damage such a project could inflict. Some of those trees could never be replaced. Residents who oppose the roundabout have raised legitimate questions about whether the amount of traffic and congestion in the area justifies this project.
Greater Consensus Needed
Some of the other improvements called for under the project would certainly help -- such as grading down a hill on N.C. 2 as it approaches Carolina Vista from N.C. 5 to improve sight distances for vehicles turning onto N.C. 2 from Carolina Vista and adding islands to better steer traffic in and out of N.C. 2 from Azalea Road.
The project also calls for adding left-turn lanes at the signalized intersection of N.C. 2 and nearby N.C. 5 to ease congestion and improve safety. At times, that corner becomes a serious traffic bottleneck as cars back up waiting to turn. Some motorists are tempted to swerve around the waiting cars, creating a safety hazard. So those aspects of the plan look like a good idea.
In the long run, the village hopes that construction of a western connector will alleviate traffic congestion in Pinehurst. In the meantime, rather than focusing so single-mindedly on the roundabout concept, it would seem to be better use of money and energy to address problems on N.C. 5.
If the roundabout is such a good idea, the village ought to be able to do a better job of selling it and achieving consensus instead of going full speed ahead on something about which a lot of residents seem to have grave misgivings. Given the financial constraints facing the state, spending $500,000 on a project that enjoys so little public support and that would have little long-range effect on easing any traffic problems in that area just doesn't look like a wise use of resources.
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