There’s finally a light at the end of the tunnel for drivers in Hope Mills — or, to be more accurate, there are a couple of extra passing lanes.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation recently held an information session to get residents’ input and share details about its new plan. The North Carolina DOT plans to widen both Rockfish and Golfview Roads and install a couple of roundabouts to help ease traffic congestion.
“Our local leaders and local transportation agency (Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization) requested that we make this a priority that we widen these roads and somehow improve them,’’ said Andrew Barksdale, a spokesman for North Carolina DOT.
The best news for Hope Mills is that the roughly $12 million needed to make the project happen is already funded. The only bad news is the project won’t get started until the summer of 2022. Barksdale said the estimate is it will take from two to three years until the widened road will be finished.
For now, DOT is still seeking input from both local government officials and people in the Hope Mills community on any changes or tweaks that need to be made to the plan that the state has already mapped out for the roads.
Barksdale said the state no longer builds fivelane roads with four lanes for normal driving and one center turn lane. “It has to be an extreme, unusual circumstance due to topography,’’ he said, for a five-lane road to be built.
The current practice is to construct four-lane roads with a raised median in the center.
The plan for Golfview and Rockfish roads is to do the same, adding two roundabouts at critical locations.
One roundabout would be at the intersection of the two roads. The second would be at a current traffic bottleneck at Rockfish and Park Boulevard at the entrance to Rockfish Elementary School, Brower Park and Hope Mills Municipal Park.
“You’ve got all these issues out there,’’ Barksdale said, referring to the busy intersection. “The school. Ballfield. Town Hall. We don’t need people flying through there speeding. People are crossing back and forth.’’
A sidewalk is already under construction on one side of the roadway.
Roundabouts provide a safer option for traffic, forcing drivers to slow down and also making it easier for pedestrians to cross the street because they can go halfway first and safely stop if needed.
“It’s a good fit for the right intersection,’’ Barksdale said of the roundabout. “The project overall is going to decrease congestion during peak travel times and improve safety.’’
Barksdale said widening a road, as is planned for both Rockfish and Golfview, and adding a median reduces the risk of serious T-bone type accidents.
Barksdale stressed the design that has been put forward by the state DOT is preliminary. Public input on any needed changes to the design will be accepted until mid-March.
“We can still tweak it based on feedback from everyone involved, including emergency services, town officials and property owners,’’ Barksdale said. “We feel this is the right plan for this use. We need people to be safe going through there because of all the uses.’’
One potential conflict to the plan is a project the town of Hope Mills has in the works to build a combined police and fire department complex near the current location of the existing buildings for both. They are also located in the area where the road project will take place.
An official target date for starting the police-fire complex hasn’t been set, according to Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner. But it could start as soon as 2020 if the town secures funding and likely would take only a year to build.
If the town delays its start of the police-fire complex, Barksdale said, the North Carolina DOT would coordinate with the town to avoid adding to traffic problems or interfering with driveway access for police and fire vehicles. “It’s all part of the planning process,’’ he said.
People who were unable to attend the information meeting held earlier can still offer their input about the project. The two contacts are Sean Matuszewski and Steve Scott.
Contact Matuszewski by emailing him at email@example.com or by mailing him at P.O. Box 1150, Fayetteville, 28302. He can be reached by phone at 919-364-0603.
Email Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 919-573-9929.