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Is Benson ready for a roundabout in the heart of downtown?

A rendering of what a roundabout would look like at the intersection of Main and Wall streets in downtown Benson. There are traffic lights there now.
A rendering of what a roundabout would look like at the intersection of Main and Wall streets in downtown Benson. There are traffic lights there now.

Roundabouts have become a popular option for engineers to manage traffic at intersections across the Triangle, from Carrboro to Cary to Wake Forest and even at rural crossroads in Johnston and Wake counties.

Now it may be Benson’s turn. The N.C. Department of Transportation is proposing to take down the traffic lights and put in a roundabout at the intersection of Main and Wall streets in the heart of downtown. NCDOT will present its proposal at a public open house from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Benson Town Hall, 303 East Church St.

NCDOT says a roundabout would make the intersection safer. There have been 56 crashes here in the last decade, according to the department, including eight in which people were injured. Traffic engineers say crashes would be rarer and less severe with a roundabout, which forces drivers to slow down before they reach the intersection.

The town Board of Commissioners passed a resolution last fall to support NCDOT’s plans to study and design a roundabout for the intersection. But the board has not taken a position on the roundabout itself, Mayor Jerry Medlin said. He said Tuesday’s meeting will be the public’s opportunity to influence the decision.

“There will be a wide range of opinions on any changes made to such a visible and highly traveled intersection,” Medlin wrote in an email. “This is the best chance to receive the most up-to-date information about this project, and for our community to let DOT and the Board know what they think is the best option as Benson continues to grow.”

Medlin said on average more than 14,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection, which is where U.S. 301 meets U.S. 242, N.C. 50 and N.C. 27. The town, which has more than 3,700 residents, expects to grow significantly in the next 25 years and will need to handle more traffic, he said.

NCDOT will accept public feedback on the proposed roundabout through Nov. 27. Comments can be sent to project manager Addison Gainey at (252) 640-6428, nagainey@ncdot.gov or P.O. Box 3165, Wilson, N.C., 27895.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling
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