Lake Norman & Mooresville

N.C. 150 U-turns causing car crashes

Mooresville mom Gina Marshall is concerned about students causing wrecks while trying to get to Lake Norman High School on Doolie Road.

The problem occurs when students' vehicles stack up in the 220-foot-long westbound turn lane from N.C. 150 onto Doolie. Some get impatient, continue west on N.C. 150 through the traffic light and then make U-turns, so they can then turn right onto Doolie and avoid the backups.

Marshall said she's seen the glass from wrecks that happen when students attempt to make their U-turns.

"Something needs to be done before something awful happens," Marshall said in an email to the Observer.

Mooresville Police Chief Carl Robbins said his officers have responded to 11 collisions at the intersection over the past two years.

"We do try to work some enforcement there," he said, but "enforcement is usually mostly a temporary fix to a situation."

Permanently solving such a problem, he said, involves making road improvements, erecting signs and educating motorists as to the danger of the unsafe movement they're trying.

"You have to have education and engineering," he said.

The Mooresville Police Department responds to about 2,200 wrecks each year, Robbins said, and some other intersections on N.C. 150 have more collisions. At Williamson Road and N.C. 150, police responded to 55 wrecks over the past two years, he said.

Where N.C. 150 intersects with Norman Station Boulevard - at the entrance to the Consumer Square shopping center and Wal-Mart - police handled 69 collisions over two years, Robbins said.

"We work a lot of accidents in that corridor," he said.

Mooresville Transportation Planner Neil Burke said he's watched as the traffic stacks up in the turn lane at Doolie.

He said the state changed the timing of the traffic signal to allow more vehicles to turn left onto Doolie in the morning. But adjusting the signal further would cause longer backups on N.C. 150, he said. The ultimate fix, he said, is to widen N.C. 150.

Widening the road from Interstate 77's Exit 36 to N.C. 27 in Lincolnton is listed in the state's Transportation Improvement Plan. But that doesn't mean the project has been funded, or that work is close to starting.

A map of the project on the state's TIP website shows the widening of a 5.5-mile stretch of N.C. 150 from I-77 to Harvel Road in Catawba County at Lake Norman starting in 2020. No completion date is listed, and DOT Division Construction Engineer Dan Grissom cautioned recently that the start date still depends on adequate funding and other factors.

Some residents, meanwhile, continue to push for N.C. 150 relief sooner than the 2020s.

Retired General Electric manager Bill Nagel has urged road planners to revive plans for a two-lane road that would travel east from Doolie to the Morrison Plantation subdivision.

Morrison Plantation residents say opening the dead end of narrow Plantation Ridge Drive in their community would endanger children and others, and they vow to fight any attempt to do that.

Nagel replied that public safety is at risk if nothing is done to eliminate the 2 1/2-mile traffic snarls on N.C. 150 at Doolie and Perth roads. Government should exercise its right of eminent domain - the power to condemn land - to claim the land needed for the new road, he said.

In 2007, the Mooresville Board of Commissioners adopted a Comprehensive Transportation Plan that recommends a new road network from the end of Plantation Ridge Drive ultimately to Doolie, Burke has said.

The N.C. Board of Transportation approved the plan in 2008, he said, but that project "is just a line on a map."

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