DOT engineer hosts public meeting on road improvements

Published 12:10 am Thursday, August 9, 2018

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As NCDOT Division 9 engineer, Pat Ivey deals with medians, interchanges and road improvements all the time. It’s his job.

So how does a proposed median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road, which has been a hot-button issue in Clemmons for quite some time, compare to the many projects he deals with in this area — any better or worse than others?

“Not really,” Ivey said. “When you deal with a median, you get this kind of the thing. That’s not a problem. We know that. We expect that. All we wanted to do when we met with the council and the public is simply just look at our proposal, let us explain what we are doing and tell us if we can make some additional improvements to make it better, look at something different that we have not thought about. That’s what this is all about.”

Ivey, who came to Clemmons in May for a work session prior to a regular Village Council meeting, was on hand along with other representatives from Division 9 and Kimley-Horn consultants when NCDOT held a public meeting at River Oaks Community Church on July 10 to give a brief overview, show maps and answer questions on the project. The public was invited to submit comments to Clemmons to be shared with NCDOT with a deadline of Wednesday.

And in next Monday night’s council meeting, Ivey and NCDOT representatives are on the agenda for a follow-up presentation and review where things stand with the project.

“I would encourage council, if you have a list of concerns for NCDOT to maybe consider drafting what those concerns you’d like them to address at your meeting,” said planner Megan Ledbetter at the July 23 council meeting, “so you can have a meaningful conversation with them when they come back.”

In the May meeting, Ivey revealed plans for a proposed median on Lewisville-Clemmons Road from I-40 to Stadium Drive, which only represents about 20 percent of the busy stretch of highway extending all the way to U.S. 158. Many figured any median would go all the way down that corridor, but no changes are proposed for the other 80 percent of the busy road.

NCDOT officials have emphasized that the proposed median, which covers about 1,300 feet, is all about safety with crash rates almost three times the statewide rate for roads with a similar number of lanes and traffic volumes.

“I have heard from a lot of folks that are very pleased and think what we’ve come up with is a good workable compromise as opposed to a complete median to just where it’s needed,” Ivey said. “I think where we have proposed medians, most people instinctively know that’s a problem. That really wasn’t a surprise. So I think this might be a good way to take a look at it.

“Where we’re proposing a median from the ramp (coming off the interstate) down to Stadium, it’s sort of a no-brainer to most folks. They recognize we’ve got to do something, and I think where we’ve been able to provide access, which quite frankly surprised the division quite a bit, and our consultants did a great job coming up with those concepts. They are a little out of the box, but they are phenomenal that they work as well as they do, based on the studies that they’ve done.”

Proposed changes will include restricting some movements through the stretch with the median, better synchronization of the traffic signals, and utilization of parallel and neighboring roads including Westwood Shopping Center and Market Center Drive.

On the remainder of the corridor — about 5,500 feet — down to U.S. 158, no changes are proposed, other than making some modifications to the short median already in place on Lewisville-Clemmons Road approaching U.S. 158 where a double left turn will be added going on to that highway with two lanes extending to Spangenberg Avenue.

And where do things stand with the I-40 interchange, where NCDOT knows changes are badly needed?

“A year ago, our original commitment to the council was the immediate concern of the median,” Ivey said. “Let’s go back and look at access records, traffic forecasts to see, No. 1, if a median is even needed on this project, and if it is, where, does it need to be everywhere, does it need to be parts of it. That was our commitment and our task to the consultants then.

“We’ve known that the interchange, we need to do something about it. It’s going to take a lot of work and a lot of analysis. Once we get the green light from the council and the project scores well enough to carry over, the interchange will be one of the first things our consultants start working on is looking at different options that we’ll take out to the public.”