Pair of Columbus County intersections being redesigned; construction starts in June
LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WWAY) — A pair of reduced-conflict intersections (RCI) will be constructed on U.S. 74/76 in Columbus County to improve safety.
The design will replace the traditional intersections at Chauncey Town Road and Old Lake Road, which are about a mile apart at Lake Waccamaw. The NC Department of Transportation this week awarded the $1.8 million contract to Barnhill Contracting Co. of Rocky Mount, which is expected to start construction in June and complete the improvements by October.
Currently, drivers on the two side roads must stop and wait for a safe opening before going straight, left or right onto U.S. 74/76, which has the right of way. An RCI design includes concrete traffic islands and raised medians that redirect side-street motorists into turning right; if they want to go in the opposite direction, they go right first, then turn around in a dedicated lane just a few hundred feet away.
Under the design, drivers on U.S. 74/76 will continue to be able to turn left or right at either intersection. An RCI design reduces the risk of serious crashes, including T-bone wrecks, as this NCDOT page and video explain. The department has been using the innovative design for years in road construction.
The RCI improvements will be temporary, because the NCDOT intends to remake the Chauncy Town Road intersection into an interstate-style interchange that includes a bridge going over the highway and on and off ramps. As part of the same project, Old Lake Road will become an overpass. The details and purpose of this project were discussed at an open house in 2019.
The RCI designs will be built this year as the first phase of traffic control for the permanent improvements to the two intersections. A contract for the permanent improvements is scheduled to be awarded in June 2022.