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Pair of U.S. Highway 264 projects seeks to improve safety

A pair of projects currently in development by the North Carolina Department of Transportation will seek to curb traffic crashes at two dangerous locations on U.S. Highway 264, east of Washington.

The first involves converting a .8 mile stretch of five-lane highway in the vicinity of Beaufort County Community College into what is known as a superstreet. The second is a proposed roundabout at the intersection of U.S. 264 and N.C. Highway 32.

Engineers from the NCDOT met with local residents for a public meeting on Wednesday, presenting designs and gathering feedback on the projects.

In essence, the superstreet project involves installing concrete medians in the existing turn lanes, preventing traffic along that section of road from making left turns onto U.S. 264. In this section, traffic would be forced instead to turn right, traveling to one of five “bulb out” sections of road before making a modified U-turn.

“You eliminate the cross-traffic impacts of people turning left,” DOT Engineer Michael Aman said. “If they need to go in the opposite direction, there are dedicated U-turns for that.”

PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT: Department of Transportation Division Manager Robby Taylor explains aspects of the superstreet project to local residents during a public meeting on Wednesday. (Matt Debnam/Daily News)

The main driver behind the change is increased safety for motorists. According to NCDOT branch Manager Robby Taylor, there have been a total of 52 crashes along that stretch of road in the past 10 years. According to Aman, approximately 44 percent of those crashes involved drivers making left turns onto the roadway. In particular, the western entrance of BCCC and Neck Road presents the greatest danger.

“The U.S. 264 BCCC superstreet project is projected to be ready for bidding April 2019, however this date is preliminary and may change,” Aman wrote in an email.

While the DOT estimates that the superstreet project may also be completed in 2019, the proposed roundabout at U.S. 264 and N.C. 32 is still in preliminary design phases. The next step would be to obtain drafts of that project from an engineer.