On Wednesday, Ayden and I left our Pinehurst house around 4:50 p.m. to get to a 5:30 football practice at West Pine Middle School. I needed to stop for gas first — I figured we had plenty of time to run that errand and go 5 miles.
We made our way via side streets to N.C. 5. It was gridlocked from McKenzie Road to 211. This seemed unwarranted. “Must be an accident at 211,” I told Ayden.
So we circumvented our way instead to Rattlesnake Trail and jumped on 211 there — but only after yielding for 10 cars backed up on Gun Club Road. As we sailed through the intersection with N.C. 5, we both looked at each other and said, “no accident.”
Rush hour traffic in Pinehurst?
I stopped for gas at the corner of Juniper Lake Road and 211. The station was packed. I waited five minutes to get an open spot at the next available pump. Having filled up, I jumped into the flow on 211 and continued toward the school. From there to Archie Road, it was two lanes of solid traffic, the likes of which you see on Capital Boulevard in Raleigh or Wendover Avenue in Greensboro — but in Pinehurst.
This is increasingly our daily reality, especially if your commute to or from work involves U.S. 15-501, U.S. 1, N.C. 211, N.C. 22 through Southern Pines or Airport Road in Whispering Pines.
The Moore County tempo has historically been slower because of our retired and resort lifestyles. Now we’re slowing down for the wrong reason: Growth is outpacing our capacity to accommodate it.
Back in December, The Pilot designated “growth” for its annual Newsmaker of the Year. That series of stories started this way:
“A fuse may have been lit more than three decades ago that would later put Moore County on a growth trajectory few could have foreseen in those days. The transformation of a run-down resort in a sleepy retirement village would be at the epicenter. The golf championships that followed, starting with the record-setting 1999 U.S. Open, put Pinehurst — and Moore County — on a world stage. The story of this special place got out, the people came. It’s been different ever since.”
Combine that with the U.S. Army’s decisions to close bases and relocate certain operations to Fort Bragg, along with the growth of Special Forces, and it’s pretty clear what has occurred.
Residential growth is booming; developers are competing to find sufficient tracts on which to build new homes. The Villages at The Carolina off Airport Road is the newest focus of debate. Developers can already build 495 homes out there, but now they’re asking Southern Pines for permission to increase that to 700 — directly across from Moore County Airport.
Pinehurst is taking matters into its own hands. The village has launched an ambitious 18-month process overhauling its comprehensive land-use plan. The goal, through the public’s input and a great deal of study, is to figure how best to manage growth while protecting our “quality of life.” Aberdeen is doing something similar, though not on the same grand scale.
Here at The Pilot, growth is the great underpinning that links almost everything we write about: the need for new schools, the increase in accidents, municipal zoning decisions, demands for more police and fire response, new stores and restaurants, environmental impacts.
You won’t see these stories anywhere else but The Pilot. We are committed to keeping you informed about this critical issue affecting everyday life here. Because, as we told you in that “Newsmaker” story about growth:
“Rolling snowballs gather their own momentum. Growth begets more jobs, more people, more homes, more cultural opportunities — more everything. It also demands more: more roads, more schools, more water and sewer capacity, more parks — more everything. All of that added value has a subtraction factor as well. You either keep up with growth and meet its demands, or face a diminishing quality of life.”
Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or the firstname.lastname@example.org.