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ONDBEAT: Like it or not, Carolina Shores (almost) has new crossovers

New intersections nearing completion in Carolina Shores have been described as “Michigan turn lanes.”

That got me to wondering: What exactly is a Michigan turn lane, and why do traffic experts want to put them in Brunswick County?

By now, most people who have ventured into the northern reaches of the county already know what a Michigan turn lane is — you can’t cross U.S. 17 in Leland or Old U.S. 17-onto-newer-17 in Bolivia without going through one.

In lieu of the old days when we could all go left in our Mercuries and Model T’s, these new “directives,” frequently using sophisticated traffic signals, force drivers to go right, then loop-de-loop in a U-turn back to the left if they choose.

The design launched in the 1960s you-know-where (hint: it’s the former leading state of new cars built to navigate these things), possibly as a means of preventing left-hand mishaps into the Great Lakes.

The goal is to reduce these and other types of left-turn accidents and even make things safer for pedestrians, according to Wikipedia. But until the North Carolina Department of Transportation sees fit to install sidewalks and barriers and exterminate all the fire ants, U.S. 17 will still be a stroller’s, pedaler’s and newspaper photographer’s nightmare.

Carolina Shores’ two pricey new U.S. 17 intersections, costing a whopping $1,237,663, are designed to allow traffic to cross over from only one direction. At Persimmon Road, southbound traffic will be able to cross over to head toward town and off the hectic highway. But cars exiting Persimmon Road will have to head north and go up not to the second new crossover at Shingletree Road, which only funnels northbound traffic onto Shingletree, but a mile up to Crow Creek Golf Club before attempting a southbound turn.

It’s confounding and will require adjustment, for residents who are up to the challenge. Recent town meetings, coupled with an increase in traffic along the town’s inner neighborhood roads, have indicated many already aren’t.

Former Mayor Dan Mann foresaw the alternative traffic trend in early December, when he guaranteed there would be complaining and heavier use of residential Carolina Shores Parkway to avoid the new construction and traffic limitations out on the highway.

NCDOT, citing alleviation of accidents as a main reason for installing the new turn lanes, supposedly at some point alerted the town about its construction plans but otherwise sought no input and didn’t give it much say-so about how it will affect residents.

In February, town commissioners ascertained more vehicles have been using Carolina Shores Parkway to avoid U.S. 17.

Once the crossovers are open, traffic honchos can only hope what goes around comes around when it comes to reverting back to driving on the highway.

Laura Lewis is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.