Patrick Taylor Highlands Mayor
Sometimes I think something has been fixed only to realize more work is needed. That has been the case with the intersection on NC 28 at Satulah and South Street.
For years folks complained the intersection was too complicated, confusing and dangerous. The town was urged to take action and correct the situation. I even discussed with DOT the possibility of making a traffic circle at the intersection like the ones that blanket Franklin. Some staff, like our public works director, thought a traffic circle would be an overkill solution.
With the recent paving of NC 28, there was an opportunity to improve the intersection by simplifying the design. Town staff worked with DOT engineers to develop an improved road design that did not cost the town nor the state any significant money.
I thought the problem had been solved, but I continued to receive feedback about problems with the intersection. While the intersection had been simplified and improved, folks still told me there were remaining issues. Eric Pierson, who lives on Satulah, called me last week and asked me meet him at the intersection so he could show me his concerns. I met Eric at the intersection and realized he made some very good points about intersection problems.
The police chief and Leah McCall, our code enforcement officer, also joined us. Officer McCall is a 30 year veteran with the state patrol and is an expert in traffic safety. Josh Ward, our town manager became a part of the group as well. We all concluded that improvements should be made to the intersection.
An additional stop sign will be added on South Street, as well as a stop bar. The stop bar at Satulah will be relocated few feet closer to the intersection. The stop sign at Satulah will be also be moved forward so drivers have better visibility. The stop sign that is located on the right lane coming off NC 28 will be relocated for better visibility. Our staff will work with DOT engineers to improve the manner in which motorists make a right turn off NC 28 onto the Satulah and South Street intersection. I have encouraged our staff to make the changes on our town streets as soon as possible.
Now here is another perspective. I and the town staff had two meetings at the intersection to review how these improvements can be implemented. At the first meeting Officer McCall had the blue lights on her vehicle flashing as we walked and surveyed the site. To our surprise, several motorists didn’t stop at the stop sign coming off NC 28 headed to South and Satulah. Those failures to stop might have been because of the current location of the stop sign. But, that was just one part of the problem. Several motorists didn’t stop at the stop sign on Satulah or at the one where motorists pull out on NC 28. Simply put, many people failed to stop at stop signs regardless of their location at the intersection. One local motorist cruised through one of the stop signs and shouted at me that this was a dangerous intersection. Had the driver actually stopped, I would have responded that all intersections are dangerous if stop signs are not heeded.
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