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Signs of Change Circling Pinehurst

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PINEHURST — The times are changing in Pinehurst, and the signs could not be more obvious -- they're huge, and they'll be hanging in the historic village's traffic circle starting this week.

Residents from Pinehurst and Southern Pines say they're furious with the StateDepartment of Transportation.The residents collected 2,000 signatures on a petitionagainstthe plan, but the DOT is proceeding with the $1.2 million project anyway.

Carolyn Shaw, a Pinehurst resident, speaks for many of the disgruntled. "We feel like the signs are not going to do anything to add to the beauty and charm of the area. Additionally, they really aren't needed."

DOT officials disagree. They say the signsareneeded to help cut down on accidents.

Even residents who see the safety benefit object to the size of the signs. "Safety is a concern of ours too," Emily Hewson says. "But we don't feel we need signs that look like they belong on Interstate 40 or 85 or 95."

Residents also object to being kept in the dark about the project.

"For the longest time we thought that it was just roadwork being done on the circle and they were going to plant flowers and beautify the traffic circle," Southern Pines resident Jessica Tennes says. "It came as quite a shock when I opened the local paper one day and the headline was that interstate-type signs were going up."

The residents against the plan sent a petition to the Governor. They believe that alone should be enough to force the DOT to reconsider.

Residents opposed to the plan say when the signs go up, they may picket the area in protest.

Transportation officials say the signs have nothing to do with the influx of traffic expected when theU.S. Opencomes to Pinehurst next year.