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SHA to explain J-turns to Worcester residents

NANCY POWELL ¦ Staff Writer

(Oct. 19, 2012) A state highway official said Tuesday that he would meet with residents of the Snow Hill and Girdletree areas, and other interested citizens, to discuss plans for the intersection at Route 113 and Route 12 in Snow Hill.

Donnie Drewer, traffic engineer for the State Highway Administration, told the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday he would be glad to meet with people about plans to construct J-turns at the intersection.

J-turns will be used to direct traffic away from the intersection. Instead of crossing Route 113, motorists on Route 12 who wish to continue on Route 12 on the other side of Route 113 would turn right onto Route 113 and then make a later turn left to reach the continuation of Route 12.

“It’s much, much safer,” Drewer said.

J-turns would eliminate far side accidents, those collisions that occur in the median, because they eliminate cross traffic.

With the existing, standard configuration of the intersection, a driver on Route 12 would reach the intersection, stop and look and proceed to the median, but instead of stopping and looking for approaching traffic again, the driver would continue through the intersection to Route 12.

Too often, they would not make it because they would be struck by a vehicle on Route 113.

The State Highway Administration decided to construct the J-turns after traffic studies, requested by the county commissioners last year, were done to ascertain whether improvements were warranted there because of the number of collisions.

From 2001 through 2011, the intersection had 70 crashes involving 145 vehicles, but Commissioner Virgil Shockley said during a September meeting that more than half of those crashes occurred after the State Highway Administration made that section of highway a divided four-lane highway.

Shockley has repeatedly asked for an overpass at the intersection, but Drewer has said the cost of that would be prohibitive. Shockley has also asked for a traffic signal there, but Drewer has said, and said again Tuesday, that a traffic signal would not improve traffic safety.

Although an inconvenience factor is associated with J-turns, that inconvenience is worth it, he said. After the State Highway Administration constructed J-turns at a troublesome intersection in another county, the number of accidents decreased 92 percent in five years, Drewer said.

Construction of the J-turns is expected to take place next summer.

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