Lack of traffic signal on new US 401 Bypass worries Rolesville mayor

ROLESVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- You may not think a stop sign that's covered with a tarp at an intersection that's not even really open yet would be cause for major consternation, but in Rolesville, you'd be wrong.

In fact, that very thing has the mayor of Rolesville fired up and speaking out.

"We were promised full signalization," said Mayor Frank Eagles. "That's a signal light at corner, turn, point; and all of a sudden, I see these guys putting up a stop sign!"

Eagles said it's a problem on a number of levels.

The stop sign is at the end of East Young Street where the road meets the new (and still unfinished) U.S. Highway 401 Bypass.

Because of the way the intersection is laid out, drivers are forced to make a right turn, toward Raleigh. If they want to cross the bypass, they maneuver along the so-called "superstreet" and make a U-turn a few hundred feet down.

Eagles said most drivers who use the road in the mornings will keep straight, though, and head into Raleigh. And with a stop sign in their way, Eagles sees a commuting nightmare in the making.

"Does it make common sense that you've got signals everywhere else except the main exit out of Rolesville," asked Eagle rhetorically.

"Everybody has to pull up, stop, pull up, stop, pull up, stop," said Eagles. "Well can you imagine the rush hour traffic when you've got major subdivisions that are going to be coming down this street?"

The bigger issue, though, may be safety.

Eagles said first responders in town (fire, police, EMS) have been equipped with a "pre-emp" device that will allow them to change the lights, as needed, with the click of a button. So, if they have to rush onto the bypass, they can change the through lights to red and enter the bi-pass safely and quickly. In theory, anyway.

"How does it work when you've got a stop sign," asked Eagles.

The six-mile U.S. 401 Bypass has been in the works for almost six years and has been troubled by many setbacks but Eagles said he wants the intersection to be "fully signalized" before the road opens in a couple weeks.

Eagles provided ABC11 with an email from then-DOT Chief Engineer Wally Bowman that promises the intersection "WILL be signalized." The caps were in the original email and while Bowman doesn't appear to have promised full signalization, Eagles said that's the impression he and other town leaders have had since the state "gently twisted" their arm to get them to green-light the project.

Still, full signalization almost certainly won't happen before the road opens for a number of reasons.

"It depends how you mean signalized," said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott. "Do you mean all of it or a couple?"

Abbott said the state never had plans to put a signal light at the end of East Young Street. He said the state will study it, but cautions patience.

"Even if we said 'Yes, we want a signal,' you have to put a contract out and a company has to bid on it. You can't just say, 'Hey, go to the back warehouse, get a signal and put it up.'"

Abbott said the state will study whether the intersection merits a signal; ironically, that can't happen until the road is open.

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