A proposed North Carolina Department of Transportation project to install a roundabout at one of Benson’s busiest intersections is starting to come into focus, or at least some of the problems that could occur while construction is ongoing.
Thanks to lessons learned from the installation of new sewer lines on Main Street, Benson Mayor Jerry Medlin says the town will be ready to handle the expected delays and detours that will become necessary when construction of the roundabout begins next spring.
“We will do a better job when we do the roundabout,” he said. “We already have a plan put together to how we’re going to detour the traffic.”
Medlin said the two options included closing Main Street for three weeks or closing it off for one week and having crews work 24 hours a day — they chose the second option.
The town has also began making adjustments to detours, which will be needed, and is using the lessons learned from the sewer project to make sure there’s not major loss of access to downtown businesses like the ones experienced during the latest infrastructure upgrade.
The detour has seen cars redirected from Main Street to either Church Street or Parrish Drive, which both run parallel to Main. Crossing Main has been difficult as most intersections are either closed or limited to a single lane, causing drivers to seek other ways to reach downtown businesses. The construction has left barricades and gravel in the middle of the street with little room to maneuver.
“We’ve already adjusted a couple of places where we would detour them because we’ve seen it didn’t work too well,” he said. “So when we get to that we’ll be in the position that Main Street will be able to do business and we’ll be able to put the roundabout in.”
The roundabout itself will dictate several changes to the area where U.S. Highway 301 intersects with Main Street, including relocating utility lines, according to Medlin.
“We’re going to move all the electric lines that are in that area underground,” he said. “That will be a different corner than it has been.”
Plans call for adjusting the intersection by taking the corner off three sides of the intersection.
“Miller’s stores we won’t do anything there,” he said. “But they’ll lose some parking on both sides.”
Construction on the roundabout is scheduled for May 2020 and will see crews working around the clock to meet the goal of completing work in one week.
“They’ll do a lot of preparation before they start tearing the street out,” Medlin said. “When they do it, I think it’s a week and three days around the clock.”