Rolesville mayor, residents upset over missing traffic signal

ROLESVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Rolesville Mayor Frank Eagles is firing back at the state Department of Transportation after ABC11 shone light on a brewing controversy in the state's fastest growing town.

"They've been caught with their pants down," Eagles said Thursday. "They're trying to cover their butt. We were promised full signalization. That's a signal light at corner, turn, point; and all of a sudden, I see these guys putting up a stop sign!"

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.

Click here to read our previous story.

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? I see it as a safety issue," said Eagles. "If it wasn't, there wouldn't be the urgency. We could just say, 'Alright, we'll get it put in when the bypass is actually completed.'"

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 bypass safely and quickly. In theory, anyway.

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

A spokesperson for the DOT said they would only change the stop sign to a stop light in an emergency situation and they said this doesn't qualify.

"Why isn't it," asked Eagles. "It's going to cause problems with response time with EMS and fire. That's a risk of life. That was the whole argument about signalizing it, putting in the pre-empt device."

There's also an issue of traffic flow.

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

That's something Edward Pulley has also been thinking about. He lives on the corner of East Young Street and the new 401 bypass.

"That stop sign is going to make everybody stop there and then it'll back it up all the way to Rolesville," said Pulley. "If you don't believe what I'm saying, come out at 4 or 5 in the evening and see what's going on and then in the morning and see what's going on."

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.

"They'll wait until someone gets killed out there," said Pulley, "and then they'll do a traffic study. That's what'll happen."

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