Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Drivers in Franklin Monday morning were met with a new traffic pattern as the roundabout at the intersection of US 441 and Maple Street was opened to motorists. The grading work was completed around the roundabout over the weekend, the last step in opening it for traffic.
The road is still congested, as construction of the roundabout at the intersection of US 441, Wayah Street, and Porter Street is in full swing. The road is reduced to one lane as the truck apron and a steel-enforced wall along the new alignment of Porter Street is being finished.
The Franklin Town Council voted to allocate Powell Bill funding to complete the sidewalk along the route once the roundabout is complete, which will connect the sidewalk up Porter Street to the end of the NCDOT project along the section going up towards Hillcrest Ave.
Council Member David Culpepper requested the town continue to focus on the sidewalks in the area as the development of commercial space adjacent to the Maple Street roundabout will lend itself to an ideal sidewalk connector for pedestrians. Town Manager Summer Woodard said that portion of sidewalk is being planned once the area is further developed.
While contractors are finishing up the roundabouts in town, NCDOT is waiting for dry weather to evaluate a sinkhole in the middle of Highlands Road. Mark Hill with NCDOT said that the orange cones in the left lane are a safety measure due to the sinkhole forming near Bellview Road.
“There is a small sink hole located in the travel lane that is coned off,” said Hill. “We are working with Roadside Environmental and the Town of Franklin to determine if the root cause of the issue is a leaking waterline or a natural spring that has developed due to the excessive rains that we have received.”
According to Hill, in order to determine the cause, a chlorine test needs to be conducted but because of the rains, DOT does not want to test a diluted sample since it may provide false results.