Midland Road has long been one of our endearing — and enduring — landmarks, a tree-lined thoroughfare between Pinehurst and Southern Pines that has gone largely unchanged over the years. The question, though, is how much longer we’ll be able to say that.
You can’t travel the full length of the road these days. You’re detoured away between Pennsylvania Avenue and U.S. 1 as crews work to build a new roundabout where N.C. 22 meets Midland. A little bit east, another project is adjusting Midland’s lanes at U.S. 1 to improve flow and safety.
Those projects have scarred the surroundings and required the loss of some of Midland’s iconic trees, but in the end the road will be the better for it.
The real concern is farther west in Pinehurst, where a developer has proposed a small complex of buildings near the Carolina Eye offices on Midland. The proposed Midland Business Park would have six buildings with 13,200 square feet of space for commercial and office uses on 1.86 acres.
The Pinehurst Planning Board rejected the request as “out of character” for Midland, or, as one resident said, “This would be a strip mall on Pinehurst’s historic corridor.”
But there’s no question people have their eyes on Midland. Marcel Goneau, a local builder who has done several local projects and who lives on Williams Road off Midland, told the Planning Board he felt this project would be good for the area: “It would be nice to have some businesses we could walk to. I think it is a great location for my business. I think there is a need for professional offices.”
The final word is not yet in on this project; the Village Council still must decide. And while it’s probably a safe bet the council will not overrule its Planning Board, the message is clear: Development pressure has come to Midland. This won’t be the last project.
Remember Our Nature
Walker Station, at the corner of Knox Road and Midland, brought a new subdivision to the corridor. Now, the Talamore development off Midland Road in Southern Pines is expanding with a subdivision of 36 patio homes. The homes will use the main Talamore entrance as access, increasing the frequency of cars at that intersection.
The state Department of Transportation has a number of safety improvements planned for Midland. Lowering the speed limit to a consistent 35 mph is just the start. Many impromptu crossovers will be closed off. And another circle, this one at Airport Road east of the big Traffic Circle, is on the board.
So far, these changes are all about improving safety and protecting the corridor. Fine. But it’s up to Pinehurst and Southern Pines leaders to ensure they’re not exacerbating the safety problem by adding more development and traffic to a stretch best left as close to its natural state as possible.
Midland Road, the first divided highway in North Carolina, is still a bucolic trek between communities. Mature longleaf pine boughs stretch over the road, and the presence of golf and beautiful homes along its path remind us of our heritage.
Let’s be mindful not just of what makes us safe but also what makes us special.