Owners worry congestion may be driving away customers
STALLINGS – Business owners near the intersection of Potter and Pleasant Plains roads hope the state’s plans for a traffic roundabout put an end to the line of cars they’re used to seeing blocking access to their stores’ parking lots.
The intersection has no turn lanes, which has led to lines of cars stretching in all four directions and a number of wrecks over the past few years. There have been at least 28 wrecks within 150 feet of the intersection since March 1, 2009, according to Cliff Braam, travel safety engineer for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who said additional wrecks may have gone unreported. Most of the collisions were “angle” wrecks, meaning someone was hit while trying to turn at the intersection, or rear-end collisions.
“It’s terrible,” said Tracy Helms, owner of Gold & Silver Mint at the Potter Square shopping center. She said she’s often seen traffic backed up in front of her store and is worried it’s hurting her business. Helms says the traffic leads to drivers cutting through the shopping center’s parking lot, endangering pedestrians.
“If you don’t leave by a certain time, you can’t hardly get out of here sometimes because it backs up,” she said.
Stallings is working with the state transportation department to find an answer for the intersection. The town is worried about safety at the intersection, and about traffic there adversely affecting traffic at the nearby intersection of Old Monroe Road and Stallings Road. The state came up with three options for the problem: a single-lane roundabout; a dual-lane roundabout; or standard intersection improvements, like widening the intersection and adding turn lanes. Stallings leaders voted earlier this week in favor of a single-lane roundabout, though they’d accept general improvements like turn lanes. The state will make the final decision, and pay for most of the work.
The town will pay $2 million for the project initially, then be reimbursed $1.6 million by the state. Stallings is expected to end up paying around $300,000 for engineering and design costs for the project.
Business owners are split on what they’d like to see the state do.
“That (roundabout) down there at Potter and Waxhaw (roads) seems to work great, because it just keeps traffic flowing,” said Helms, the owner of Gold & Silver Mint. She thinks a roundabout is likely the safest and most effective option of the three.
Tina Kiley, who owns Good Lookin’ Hair in the shopping center, is more in favor of standard intersection improvements to make things safer. “The only thing they need to do is put turn lanes in there,” Kiley said. “They don’t need to go to the extent of putting a roundabout there. It’s just kind of overkill. If they just put turn lanes, that would eliminate the problem.”
But not everyone thinks the intersection is a problem worthy of spending that much money.
“I honestly think there’s way more problems that they should be concentrating on than an intersection here off the beaten path,” Heather Bard, owner of Princess Divas & Dream Photography, said. “I’ve been here over two years now, and I’ve never heard one single complaint (from customers) about traffic on this road.”
Design work on the intersection improvements should be complete by the end of the year. Construction would start around March 2013.