By: Johnny Woodard Staff Writer
September 18, 2013
LAURINBURG — With more than 20 active and upcoming projects in Scotland County, the North Carolina Department of Transportation is having an unusually busy season.
“There’s a lot of work going on in Scotland County right now,” said Johnny Brock, assistant engineer at the DOT’s Hamlet office.
Work has led to the closure two lanes of traffic on U.S. 74 through Laurel Hill, where work is being done to create a “directional crossover” at the intersection of Church Street and U.S. 74, also known as Andrew Jackson Highway. The modification will only allow right turns, and prevent motorists from crossing the busy four-lane highway.
Brock said officials found that the intersection was dangerous enough to warrant intervention.
“The DOT does a spot safety program to try to reduce the number of accidents at crossovers, where they count the number of accidents,” he said.
Similar US-74 crossovers in Laurel Hill have been eliminated over the past decade, according to DOT records. A “right-turn only” restriction has also been put where Old Wire Road and U.S. 74 meet, while other intersections now have four-way stop lights.
News of the work was met with praise by those living near the intersection.
Kyle Wyckoff, youth pastor at nearby Laurel Hill Baptist Church, said a close family member was involved in an accident at that intersection several years ago.
“I know that’s a dangerous spot, and anything to make it safer is good, I think,” he said.
Resident Cristal Chapman agreed that the change is a good one.
“Some people will probably not like not being able to cross right over to the other side, but I have seen a bunch of wrecks there,” Chapman said.
A major road resurfacing project is also underway in Scotland County, Brock said.
Known as “chip seal,” the resurfacing process starts with road surfaces being cleaned and sprayed with a tacky liquid, and a “chip spreader” applies small rocks to the surface.
“Then they roll over it and flatten the (surface),” Brock said.
DOT officials then follow with a sweeper, intended to remove any loose rocks that remain. It’s a process that Brock said the department does as a cost-saving measure to extend the life of road surfaces.
But some residents who have had chip seal placed on their neighborhood roads are not happy.
“I’m concerned about property damage from the loose rocks, and I couldn’t even let my grandchildren play out there,” said long-time Scotch Meadows resident Maureen Windmeyer.
Windmeyer said that she might not have made improvements to her driveway had she known the resurfacing would take place.
“I didn’t know there was going to be this tar marking it up,” she said. “I’m also worried about the effect it could have on property values in the neighborhood, which are already down because of (the economy).”
The chip seal method is touted by DOT officials as an affordable alternative to standard resurfacing measures.
“It’s something that the DOT has done for years and years,” Brock said. “It’s a temporary measure that DOT uses to cover a road until they get money available (for standard resurfacing).”
Depending on available funds, decisions about which roads are chip sealed and which roads are completely resurfaced are made by County Maintenance Engineer Charles Vick, Brock said. According to the department’s website, the method is here to stay — similar processes known as “cape sealing” and “slurry sealing” are being used on approximately 29.3 miles of subdivision road surfaces in Scotland County at a cost of $1,377,000.
A little more than a mile of road in Laurinburg, including a stretch of Caledonia Road, is set to be resurfaced in 2014 with 1.5 inches of asphalt next year. According to the website, that will come at a cost $165,000.
Other projects have included the installation of center line and shoulder rumble strips on US 15-501 from Laurinburg to Aberdeen — a stretch of road that crosses into Hoke and Moore counties. That work is being done at a cost of $200,000.
To find out if any projects are underway near you, visit ncdot.gov/projects.