Four-way stop, roundabout a bad mix


Take what motorists see as a normal intersection where a side street comes to a stop at a rural major roadway — where high-school students come from one end and college students come from the other — create a temporary four-way stop prior to constructing a permanent, newfangled roundabout and you have the potential recipe for a nightmare.

That’s the plan for the Dublin intersection of N.C. 41 and N.C. 410, a plan that Editor W. Curt Vincent goes into detail about on Page 1A in today’s Bladen Journal.

There are three sides to this plan — that of the state, which has studied the intersection for more than five years to determine a solution to what NCDOT officials say have been “frequent accidents” at the site; that of the school officials, West Bladen High and Bladen Community College, which range from mildly concerned to fervently opposed; and that of the public, which has so far been disappointingly quiet.

We have discussed the plan for a four-way stop and roundabout with both NCDOT officials and local school officials. Quite honestly, we have been swayed by both the argument that the intersection in question needs attention, as well as the argument that a four-way stop and then a roundabout — all without reducing the current 55-mph speed limit — could create a bigger problem.

That leaves us with the notion that something has to be done … but what?

The fact that the junction of N.C. 410 and N.C. 41 is ground zero for young, inexperienced high-school and college drivers — along with the usual transfer trucks and other challenges — is enough to tell anyone with sense that dropping what amounts to an obstacle course in the middle of those ingredients can’t be logical.

Drew Cox, an engineer with the NCDOT, claims the roundabout will solve a lot of problems at the busy intersection and he says that claim has been proven elsewhere in the state. Peggy Hester, principal at West Bladen High, thinks the learning curve for her young student drivers is too much to ask for and will pose a potential hazard.

Roundabouts are becoming evident across the state — almost, it seems, merely as a way to spend whatever taxpayer dollars left in the budget. But we venture a guess that none of those roundabouts are situated between two schools with young drivers at the wheel, and that’s why we tend to agree with Hester and her concerns.

We hope the public will speak up. We also hope the county commissioners will not approve a four-way stop at the intersection — and perhaps give thought to revoking an earlier approval for the roundabout.

The compromise solution, of course, is simple: Why doesn’t the state just put up a stop light? After all, even the newest of drivers knows what red, yellow and green means.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY

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“It’s very satisfying to take a problem we thought difficult and find a simple solution. The best solutions are always simple.” (Ivan Sutherland)

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