State highway officials defended Tuesday night their plan to build a median on N.C. 150 when they expand the bottlenecked highway in the Lake Norman area in 2019.
A national study shows that medians can reduce crash rates by 37 percent on multilane roads and injury rates by 48 percent, Jim Dunlop, the state’s congestion management engineer, told the crowd of nearly 200 concerned residents and business owners at Living Waters Church on N.C. 150 West.
State Sen. David Curtis, R-Lincoln, and state Rep. Robert Brawley, R-Mooresville, helped arrange the meeting after business owners complained that the planned median would prevent customers from making left turns into their businesses.
Business owners want the state to build a left-turn lane as part of the $117 million project to turn two-lane N.C. 150 into a four-lane highway.
The state plans to widen the 13.5-mile stretch of N.C. 150 from Mooresville to the four-lane N.C. 16 Bypass in Catawba County.
Transportation officials on Tuesday night also cited a 2010 N.C. State University study showing such medians don’t curtail customer traffic. Other studies show that after medians were installed on roads, businesses did just as well if not better economically, officials said.
“One of the things we’re going to do is fit in as many left-turns and U-turns as we can,” Dunlop told the crowd.