Police, DOT study Smithfield intersection to improve safety
Posted January 20, 2012
Updated January 21, 2012
Smithfield, N.C. — Police in Smithfield have asked the state to study the intersection of U.S. Highway 70 and Front Street. The crossroads, near downtown Smithfield, has been the site of 17 wrecks over the last year. Eight of them saw someone get hurt.
Police Chief Michael Scott said, "You have a lot of traffic coming in to Smithfield and while they come in to Smithfield they are all jockeying for positions on where to turn at that intersection."
Dennis Upton said he tries to avoid the area. "It's just dangerous out there. You get people walking at times, so there's foot traffic," he said.
Upton said he has seen back ups, accidents and close calls at the edge of downtown Smithfield where Highway 70 crosses with Front Street.
Scott said the state Department of Transportation is considering a change in speed limit to see if that makes a difference. As you cross the bridge over the Neuse River at the edge of town, the limit drops from 45 to 25 mph, and four lanes narrow to two.
Scott said the DOT could opt for a more gradual speed change. "Or it may be a change in the light cycles, or even a road problem as far as maybe we need to widen the road," he said.
Police hope finding a solution will make this entrance to and through the town of Smithfield safer.
Scott knows traffic over the bridge will be reduced temporarily. A construction project valued at about $6 million is about to begin.