NCDOT replacing troublesome median at Lowe’s

By on January 22, 2013

A crew was tearing up the median Tuesday. (Rob Morris)

A source of complaints about safety, the median designed to prevent left-hand turns at the Lowe’s entrance on U.S. 158 is being torn up by the Department of Transportation.

A contractor will replace it with a narrower strip of concrete to restore full access to the center lane for northbound traffic waiting to turn left from U.S. 158 onto West 1st Street.

Just before Lowe’s opened in May, town officials said they heard concerns about dangerous back-ups the median could create for motorists trying to turn into First Street. Residents also complained about the lack of time the median allowed for deceleration into the turn lane.

It blocked the center lane for about 30 feet, leaving a short left-turn lane into First Street, which serves as a major access to residences on the west side of Kill Devil Hills.

The Lowe’s entrance between 1st Street and Landing Drive is only for southbound traffic on U.S. 158 turning right in and out.

Motorists heading north on U.S. 158 turn left at the Landing Drive traffic light to reach another entrance on the south end of the Lowe’s parking lot.

During heavy traffic times, the left-turn lane could back up into the through lane.

The median was just south of First Street.

District 1 Assistant Engineer Jim Hoadley said Tuesday that a contractor will install a concrete strip 1 to 2 feet wide along the western edge of the center turn lane. It will allow turning traffic to use the lane while still preventing left turns from the Lowe’s entrance.

Unpredictable weather had delayed the project, he said. Removing the concrete could make the asphalt in the center lane a little rough, but should not tear up the pavement, he said.

Reflective yellow striping will be painted on either end of the new strip. If necessary, he said, breakaway plastic poles could also be installed.

“We going to see how it goes and go from there,” Hoadley said.

Plans for the median came from a traffic impact analysis conducted by Lowe’s in conjunction with NCDOT, according to Jennings.

Lowe’s Public Relations Manager Stacey Lentz said in May that the median was part of the store’s permitting process. NCDOT, she said, requested that Lowe’s place the median in the highway.

Hoadley said that it was not known whether the cost of the project, which was not yet available, would be covered by the state or by Lowe’s.

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