Making the Circle Safer and Better
Acre for acre, the Pinehurst Traffic Circle might generate more comment than any other piece of property in Moore County — except perhaps for our various downtowns.
Some say the thing is more appropriate for NASCAR’s short-track circuit. As for its National Historic Landmark listing: How this traffic interchange built in the 1950s ever achieved the same hallowed status as the Oregon Trail seems a testament to our bungling federal bureaucracy.
Aside from the fundamental matter of whether there should be a traffic circle there at all, as opposed to a more standard intersection, one of the most frequently heard complaints involves sightlines and their effect on safety.
The fact is that it can sometimes be quite difficult for some motorists to get a good look at oncoming traffic as they glance over their left shoulders and attempt to pull into the circle. Visibility depends on several factors: the kinds of plantings in the points of the traffic islands; the season of year; and whether one is riding in a low-slung car, as opposed to a high-riding SUV. Sometimes it can get to be a significant safety problem.
The major reconstruction undertaken years ago produced a much safer and more efficient Traffic Circle. But now a consensus has emerged that some fairly serious tweaking is in order.
The first phase came last year, when workers cleaned out some of the underbrush and non-native plants from inside the circle. Now the village of Pinehurst and the N.C. Department of Transportation, working collaboratively, have agreed on a new set of improvements, costing nearly $100,000 and hopefully to be completed by year’s end. They sound like a good idea.
The biggest change will involve removing plantings from the points of the four islands on each side of the circle and replacing them with attractive brick pavers like those used in the core village.
Aside from its beautification value, this redesign will vastly improve visibility for drivers coming up to the yield signs. It will also improve safety in another way: Now, on those occasions when errant vehicles find their way up onto one of the islands, there will be less chance of injury to workers tending plants or cutting grass. The new layout will also be more easily maintained, cutting down maintenance costs.
This is just the first of several projects that will be going on locally in preparation for the twin back-to-back 2014 U.S. Opens, helping us put our best community foot forward. The widening of N.C. 211, now well under way, is the major component.
Let the transformation proceed.
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