By RICK CURL
Of The Record Staff
One of the worst intersections in Dunn, as voted by readers of The Daily Record, got a little better thanks to the department of transportation.
Without notifying city officials, the North Carolina Department of Transportation installed left turn lights at the intersection of U.S. 301 and U.S. 421, offering relief to drivers who must navigate the congested, often backed-up crossing of two of the area’s major highways.
“That’s a very congested intersection with 301 and 421 meeting and all the commercial trucks and vehicles of that nature,” said Dunn Police Capt. R.L. Jenkins. “They’re going to take up a lane and a half anyway while making their turns.”
City Manager Steve Neuschafer said he was as surprised as anyone else to see the lights being installed.
“Right now I’m kind of happy to see them there,” he said. “They’re working pretty well from what I’ve seen.”
Mr. Neuschafer said the intersection has been on his wish list, but nothing has been discussed recently about the new additions to the crossing, saying it was all initiated by the NCDOT.
“The times I’ve been through there it certainly has been a great improvement,” he said. “The thing is, you still don’t have those extra lanes that you need. They’re just trying to keep traffic moving or at least give you the opportunity to turn left with nothing else coming.”
The installation of the new signals, which are only controlling left turns from U.S. 301 to U.S. 421, was also a pleasant surprise for the Dunn Police Department, one seeming to have an impact right away.
“I can’t recall seeing any accidents there lately,” Capt. Jenkins said. “Any left turn on Cumberland is welcomed, especially if you’ve got two cars meeting and both of them are turning left.”
Capt. Jenkins said the new lights take much of the guess work out of making turns at the location for drivers. Previously, traffic flow would come to a standstill at times while cars attempted to turn left, adding more significant dangers.
“The traffic gets lined up and you can’t see on the other side of the vehicle, that’s when a lot of collisions occur.” Capt. Jenkins also noted how drivers trying to be courteous have also played a role in collisions at the corner.
“People will wave them on and somebody is in the blind spot and nails them,” Capt. Jenkins said. “It’s happened to our officers.”
While town officials are ecstatic over the installation, Capt. Jenkins said there are still plenty of crossings where drivers need to remain vigilant until NCDOT sees the same need to install more turn lights.
“I would like to see something around Washington because we have so much pedestrian traffic,” Capt. Jenkins added. “And at Carlie C’s IGA, we have a lot of accidents there.”