LAURINBURG — The N.C. Department of Transportation has begun the process to construct, by 2017, an overpass at what has been identified as Scotland County’s most dangerous intersection.
The most recent report released by the department tallied a total of 39 crashes at the intersection of U.S. 501 and Old Wire Road. There have been two so far this year, including a collision on Wednesday.
In January, five members of a Ft. Bragg honor guard were injured when their van collided with a log truck while crossing over the highway on Old Wire Road.
“With the number of accidents that we’ve had at that location, we have decided that the best long term solution to help with safety at that location is to build an overpass,” said N.C. DOT District Engineer Kevin Hedrick.
The overpass will be located on Old Wire Road, bringing it over U.S. 501. Hedrick said that the project is in the initial design phase, and the department of transportation plans to award a contract in December of next year, with construction beginning in 2016 and ending in 2017.
“It could be a year or more of construction time for a contractor,” he said. “Other than some construction delays, traffic would continue to flow on N.C. 144 and U.S. 501 like it is now.”
The overpass would include exits from Old Wire onto U.S. 501 and vice versa.
The project is expected to cost around $3.5 million, and is the department’s last resort in preventing collisions at the intersection, which have varied from motorists running the stop sign on Old Wire Road to pulling ahead of oncoming traffic on U.S. 501.
Within the last year, flashing lights have been installed along U.S. 501 to warn drivers of vehicles entering from Old Wire Road, and rumble strips were placed on Old Wire approaching U.S. 501 from east and west to warn motorists to stop. But those efforts have had little effect on the overall rate of accidents in that location.
“Over the past eight or 10 years we have made several changes at the intersection, installing signs, reconfiguring the intersection, so we’ve done multiple projects to assist motorists and try to help rectify the situation,” said Hedrick. “We’ve done about everything that we know that we can do short of building a bridge and we felt like, long term, this is the best solution.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.