Smithfield Herald

DOT studying crash-prone crossroads east of Clayton

Jim Dunlop, a state Department of Transportation engineer, speaks to a crowd on Oct. 14 at Antioch Baptist Church.
Jim Dunlop, a state Department of Transportation engineer, speaks to a crowd on Oct. 14 at Antioch Baptist Church. ndunn@newsobserver.com

The state is mulling alternatives to a crossroads north of Selma that has been the site of 28 crashes in the past five years.

While most intersections create 90-degree angles, the junction of N.C. 42 and N.C. 39 is more of an “X” shape, with 37-degree angled turns that can limit a driver’s sight.

“It’s at such a hard skew,” said Haywood Daughtry, a state Department of Transportation engineer.

Traffic is free flowing on N.C. 42, while drivers approaching the intersection on N.C. 39 meet stop signs to go straight or use on-ramps to merge onto the other highway.

For several years now, the DOT’s Highway Safety Improvement Program has deemed the intersection a “potentially hazardous” one. The program uses State Highway Patrol crash data to create “safety warrants” for road locations that might be dangerous.

Daughtry said he and other engineers analyze the crash data and draw up possible road changes. During a meeting Oct. 14 at Antioch Baptist Church, the DOT presented several options to residents who live near the intersection.

One possibility is building a roundabout, where traffic would follow a circular pattern to either turn onto the opposite highway or continue along the same road.

While a roundabout would be unique to the northeast portion of Johnston County, DOT engineer Jim Dunlop said they are becoming more common across the state.

“It’s the safest intersection we can put in,” Dunlop told the crowd of about 50 residents.

Another option is realigning N.C. 39 to build two offsetting T-intersections with N.C. 42. The DOT might also convert the intersection into a four-way stop.

Daughtry said the state has not allocated any funding for any work. The next steps, he said, are to pick an alternative, get cost estimates and seek funding.

Crashes at the intersection in the past five years have not resulted in any deaths. However, several have caused injuries, said BenJetta Johnson, a DOT congestion-management engineer.

Johnson said the DOT placed flashing lights and rumble strips at the intersection after the number of crashes increased in recent years. But those were more temporary fixes, she said.

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