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Pasquotank concerned road project may worsen flooding

082019us17oakstump

The N.C. Department of Transportation is planning to spend about $2 million in 2021 to rebuild the U.S. Highway 17-Oak Stump Road intersection. According to DOT, even with traffic signals, there have been 86 crashes at the “operationally deficient” intersection from 2014 to 2018, 31 of them angle collisions.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pasquotank County officials are concerned that a planned road project at the U.S. Highway 17-Oak Stump Road intersection could worsen flooding in bustling areas to the north.

County commissioners voted 5-0 Monday afternoon to request the county's stormwater consultant, Greg Johnson, assess the proposed road work for its impact to drainage around Hughes Boulevard west of Halstead Boulevard, including the flood-prone Oxford Heights neighborhood. Johnson could also suggest what work is needed to avoid adding to flooding, county officials said.

Commissioners took their vote after Planning Director Shelley Cox presented the N.C. Department of Transportation's plans to rework the unusual, somewhat convoluted intersection of U.S. 17 and Oak Stump Road. U.S. 17 runs southwesterly past Oak Stump. It also forks there to allow eastbound access to Ehringhaus Street, while westbound traffic on Ehringhaus is redirected onto northbound U.S. 17. Some traffic also cuts through the Port Elizabeth Centre shopping center parking lot for access to Oak Stump or U.S. 17.

DOT is planning to spend about $2 million in 2021 to rebuild the intersection for safety, according to a DOT fact sheet provided to county officials. Even with traffic signals, there have been 86 crashes at the “operationally deficient” intersection from 2014 to 2018, 31 of them angle collisions, according to DOT.

Cox explained DOT is proposing two basic plans to fix the intersection. One would build a new connection to U.S. 17 near Oak Stump, cutting across a residential property, while the other would create a connector road and intersection a little further west. That intersection would line up to give access to a nearby Food Lion plaza, but would cut through wetlands.

Cox said lining up the intersection with the plaza would be ideal, but DOT would replace the wetlands with a culvert for drainage. Cox questioned if DOT plans to install a large enough culvert. Without an adequate culvert, a major storm could cause bad flooding in the quickly-developing areas to the north, she said.

Cox asked commissioners for direction. They agreed flooding was the main concern, whichever intersection design DOT chooses.

“I'm more concerned about the number of culverts … to me it's not enough culverts,” board Chairman Jeff Dixon said.

Commissioner Sean Lavin, as well as Cox, also said the county needs someone with more stormwater expertise to review DOT's plans. In recommending Johnson study the plans, Cox noted the consultant had worked on a countywide drainage plan.

Tuesday is the last day for the public to provide DOT comments on the intersection. The DOT report lists Roham Lahiji and Christa Greene as the contacts. They can be reached at rrlahiji@ncdot.gov and Christa Greene at christa.greene@stantec.com.

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