Archer Lodge has no highways, just country roads leading in all directions. All of those roads converge at the center of town, making for a backed-up morning and evening commute in one of Johnston County’s faster-growing areas.
Gov. Pat McCrory’s office considers that congestion a safety concern and has awarded Archer Lodge three road-improvement projects totaling nearly $2 million. The three projects are among 87 statewide funded through the governor’s highway-safety improvement program and are the only ones in Johnston County.
Archer Lodge’s center is essentially a triangle created by Covered Bridge, Buffalo and Archer Lodge roads. The N.C. Department of Transportation will realign Covered Bridge between Archer Lodge and Murphy roads, adding a traffic signal and left turn lane. The DOT will also widen Covered Bridge Road near Buffalo Road, adding a left turn lane and traffic signal there too.
The state will widen Archer Lodge Road to the Wake County line, adding shoulders to the road.
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The two Covered Bridge Road projects will cost $998,700 and $682,000, respectively. The Archer Lodge Road work will come to $370,000.
“The improvements are way overdue,” said Archer Lodge Mayor Mike Gordon. “There’s so much traffic out there, right in the middle of the biggest schools. There’s so much traffic and congestion, repairing and widening the roads to handle the traffic is something we need.”
DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said the department approved the Archer Lodge projects after analyzing crash and traffic data and hearing from local leaders.
Town planning director Bob Clark said 29 traffic accidents occurred near the center of Archer Lodge from 2010 to 2015. Many were rear-end collisions, he said.
“We certainly believe adding turn lanes and traffic signals will cut down on the number of accidents and make it safer out there,” Clark said. “It’s near impossible the first thing in the morning or in the afternoon to make a left-hand turns at the stop signs.”
Clark said Archer Lodge’s projected growth likely won the town its highway projects. “Archer Lodge is a different type of area; it’s a crossroads community in a high growth area,” he said. “Things are happening here that made it worth a look.”
Gordon suspects some folks in Archer Lodge enjoy its identity as a one-stoplight town. But the community has outgrown two-lane roads with stop signs, he said.
“Whether you like stoplights or not, there’s a need for more in town,” Gordon said. “If you live on Castleberry Road, at the right time of day, when people are driving to work or school, it can take 15 to 20 minutes just to get on Covered Bridge Road. It’s really one of the town’s major issues. There are schoolchildren getting picked up in all of this congestion. There’s so many people in line getting to where they’re going.”
Clark said the town doesn’t know the timeline for the roadwork, but he’s seen survey crews already on Buffalo Road.
Drew Jackson: 919-553-7234, Ext. 104; @jdjackson