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The N.C. Department of Transportation has some money tucked away in its coffers, although we don’t seem to see it in action much around here.
Two of the newest road improvements are the new superstreet designs at the busy intersections of U.S. 17 and Mount Pisgah and Ocean Isle Beach roads. If you can’t remember where you’ve heard the term superstreet before—think the year-old intersections on U.S. 17 in Leland.
Apparently no one, not even DOT, could argue these busy intersections didn’t need major improvements.
The money for these two projects came from a menagerie of sources, including “spot safety funding,” according to DOT, but at least it’s a start.
The purpose of the superstreet design, which is sometimes referred to as Michigan left turns (although they’re really not the same thing) prohibits drivers from a side street (e.g. Mount Pisgah or Ocean Isle Beach roads) from turning left or going straight through the intersection. Instead, drivers must make a right and then make a U-turn.
Nobody likes change, and for some the superstreet design can seem frustrating and time-consuming, but give it time.
I clocked the mileage from the intersection of U.S. 17 and Mount Pisgah Road to the nearest place to make the U-turn. It was less than 3/10 of a mile, and only another 3/10 to the next place to make a U-turn.
That’s not so bad.
First Sgt. J.O. Holmes, of the N.C. State Highway Patrol, says drivers will actually save time by turning right onto U.S. 17 from these two roads, and then making a U-turn at the next access rather than making that tumultuous left turn.
Holmes says, “they’re fantastic,” for safety and reducing congestion.
So while the hope of these stealth superstreets is not only to decrease congestions, but to increase safety, I’m still left wondering if some drivers got the memo.
Even after nixing the left-turn option coming out of Mount Pisgah Road onto U.S. 17, some drivers apparently still feel the need to blaze onto Mount Pisgah Road, cutting out in front of oncoming traffic on U.S. 17.
I drive through this intersection every day, and it never fails: I’m cruising down U.S. 17, alert and ready for some maverick to pull out in front of me to get to Mount Pisgah Road in NASCAR qualifying time.
I look in my rearview mirror to make sure an incoming Suburban isn’t about to plow into me for slowing down to avoid slamming into said Earnhardt-wannabe and, what do you know, there’s no one behind me for miles.
So rather than wait for me to pass safely in my car that offers little more protection than, say, a golf cart, every day I’m ready for that driver with no regard for the steady stream of traffic flowing at 55 mph or more down U.S. 17, waiting to dart out in front of us to break the land-speed record in a pickup truck.
Superstreets can ease congestion and they can promote safety, but they can’t cure stupidity.
Please drive safely out there.
Caroline Curran is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email@example.com.