Work began this week on the new roundabout at Midland Road and N.C. 22 (Central Drive) and access improvements at the U.S. 1 interchange. Traffic is expected to be detoured around the area for the 75-day construction period.
Barnhill Contracting Co. was awarded the $2.8 million contract earlier this year, according to Aaron Moody, N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) Division 8 communications officer. The company is one of the state’s largest general contractors.
The work will require the contractor to close Midland Road on either side of the intersection with Central Drive from June 17 until Aug. 31. During that time, Midland Road traffic will follow Pee Dee Road to access Central Drive, and West Pennsylvania Avenue to U.S. 1 through Southern Pines to access to Midland Road on the east side of the work zone.
Individual lane closures on Midland Road will be also required outside of the all-lanes closure period. However, lane closures will not be allowed during peak driving times of 7-8:30 a.m. and 4-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The project is one of many safety improvements recommended in the comprehensive Midland Road Corridor Study.
Midland Road is believed to be the first divided highway in North Carolina. Scenic and historic, the road has also proven hazardous.
Data collected between May 2000 and December 2015 indicated the corridor had a slightly lower-than-average number of crashes per year, but the severity of those incidents was decidedly higher. Of the 164 accidents within the study period, 76 accidents involved an injured vehicle occupant. The primary reason cited for these injuries was the vehicle hitting or being pushed into a tree.
A steering committee composed of council members from Pinehurst and Southern Pines, along with local and state transportation officials, was formed as a coordinated effort to address transportation and safety concerns, and evaluate improvement alternatives for Midland Road.
Kimley-Horn’s recommendations include closing 61 of 77 median crossings, upgrades at 14 intersections, and construction of two new roundabouts -- one at N.C. 22 and the second at Airport Road.
In addition, DOT also reduced the speed limit on Midland Road last year from 45 to 35 mph along its entire length, from the Pinehurst Traffic Circle to downtown Southern Pines.
The N.C. 22 roundabout project and access improvements at the U.S. 1 interchange were singled out early in the planning process by DOT because of significant safety concerns.
Initial cost estimates put the combined project at $1.3 million; however, a more comprehensive updated engineer’s estimate set the figure closer to $2 million.
The project was scheduled for completion last summer, but was postponed after DOT was unable to secure a reasonable bid. This delay also meant the project was put on hold until after the U.S. Senior Women’s Open championship was played in mid-May at the nearby Pine Needles Lodge & Golf Club.
During the more recent round of DOT vetting, Barnhill Contracting Company was the lowest bidder at $2.8 million to submit interest in the project.