LAURINBURG — Motorists on U.S. 501 north of Laurinburg will soon have to stop at the Five Points intersection at Old Wire Road.
In an attempt to prevent accidents at the county’s most perilous intersection, the N.C. Department of Transportation will implement a four-way stop there on Aug. 19.
In a 24-hour period, the intersection averages 5,500 vehicles on U.S. 501 and 2,500 on Old Wire Road, the vast majority of which travel straight through. Between Jan. 1, 2007 and Dec. 31, 2011, the intersection saw 39 crashes.
Last year, the state proposed the construction of a U.S. 501 overpass over Old Wire Road, but the cost of the project more than doubled the $2.5 million budgeted for it.
Next month, DOT will add stop signs on U.S. 501, along with pavement markings and new warning signs to alert drivers to the new traffic pattern. Solar flashers will be added to the stop ahead signs on Old Wire Road to improve visibility.
The four-way stop is an interim measure which, if ineffective, could be replaced with a roundabout in the next year.
“That way we’ll hopefully cut back on any T-bone kind of crashes at that location,” said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott.
Last month, county commissioners met at Five Points with DOT District Engineer Rob Stone, who said then that a four-way stop may be implemented, but would likely replace T-bone crashes with rear-end collisions, which are less likely to cause serious injury.
“They’ll do a traffic study after several months of the four-way stopping, and if it turns out that it’s very effective they will forego the roundabout,” Abbott said. “If a roundabout is not going to provide significant safety effects over what they have already, it doesn’t make sense to spend the money.”
On Friday, message boards notifying drivers of the future stop were already in place along U.S. 501. Abbot said that traffic will not be diverted for installation of the four-way stop.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.