Super 70 Corridor calls to close Pine Level road crossings
Leaders in Pine Level, Wilson’s Mills and Princeton plan to seek changes to the Super 70 Corridor project when the US 70 Corridor Commission holds a public work session in Johnston County sometime early this year.
The Super 70 Corridor, a united effort to create positive change along Highway 70, which is being funded by state and federal monies, stretches along Highway 70 beginning on the west side of Clayton, according to Pine Level Mayor Jeff Holt. Phase one was the Clayton bypass and phase two is the Pine Level project.
The Pine Level project involves Firetower Road, Peedin Road extension and U.S. Highway 70 Business, Peedin Road/Creech’s Mill Road and Davis Mill/Stevens Chapel Road.
The project calls for closing the Firetower Road crossing, reworking the Peedin Road extension/US Highway 70 Business crossing, to eliminate the traffic light and to install an overpass with on and off ramps, according to Holt.
“The one that concerns me the most, and should concern Pine Level, is the Peedin Road/Creech’s Mill Road,” said Holt. “That traffic light is proposed to be done away with all together and that crossing closed, giving Pine Level no access east going out that way and not allowing people to go across 70 Highway and the interchange. Pine Level’s projected growth is around that intersection and extends all the way down the corridor to Stevens Chapel Road.”
Pine Level Commissioner Anthony Gudac said the proposals would be an inconvenience to people who live down Stevens Chapel Road and Creech’s Mill Road and are served by Pine Level Fire Department.
“I’ve spoken to Congressman Bob Etheridge’s office and they had no idea there was any opposition to the Super 70 Corridor,” said Gudac. “If we voice enough opposition, federal funding might be pulled. We need to work in conjunction with Wilson’s Mills and Princeton to see what we can do about this.”
Holt said he and the mayors of Wilson’s Mills and Princeton met with representatives from the engineering firm that is building the corridor and representatives from the state and were told the US 70 Corridor is being changed because of safety concerns. Selma Mayor Charles Hester was also invited, but he could not make it (Firetower Road is in Selma’s ETJ).
“Aside from what we all think, it’s just an effort to get people to the coast quicker from Raleigh,” said Holt. “Meanwhile, in the next 30 to 60 days, they will notify us to set up a meeting sometime in February or March, at which point we will notify every property owner, every developer, anyone with an interest in that three or four mile stretch and fill up the room.”
Holt said the corridor would impact the school system and the bus routes.
“Let’s just call it what it is, a mess,” he said.
Wilson’s Mills Town Advisor Ed Temple agrees with Holt that the corridor is an effort to get people to the coast quicker.
“I’m concerned because it will almost cut off Wilson’s Mills completely,” he said. “The plan is to eliminate a stoplight and build a bridge at Swift Creek Road and to have a small off-and-on ramp at Wilson’s Mills Road. I think the entire plan has completely ignored the citizens who live there and it is more concerned with people going to the beach. I feel that safety is just an excuse.”
Temple said the corridor could jeopardize Wilson’s Mills growth and make new zoning laws ineffective.
“Wilson’s Mills plans to participate in everything it can,” he said.
Two years ago, when the commission was formed, representatives from Wayne, Lenoir, Jones, Craven, Carteret and Johnston County were invited to join the commission, but Johnston County did not. Johnston County joined the commission on Nov. 5, 2007.
Participants from Johnston County are County Commissioner Tony Braswell, County Manager Rick Hester, Berry Gray, Johnston County Planning and Zoning director, and Frank Price, senior transportation engineer with Wetherill Engineering in Raleigh (according to the Wetherill Engineering web site).
Hester said the reason Johnston County was not a member from the start was because it was thought some of the plans were conceptual and that Johnston County would not be included as much as it is.
“Once we realized this, we got on board,” he said. “We joined the commission to be an advocate for Johnston County and the communities.”
Braswell said that he attended a Super 70 Highway Commission meeting and some of the safety issues are good and he totally agrees with what the project proposes for Firetower Road and Peedin Road.
“However, I disagree with Creech Mill Road and Stevens Chapel Road,” he said. “I understand the goal is to close as many accessible points as possible. I will be looking for compromise at the public hearing that is coming up. Some of these things need to be done, but some do not and I believe there can be room for compromise.”
“We’re in the 11th hour,” said Holt. “We need to be reactive.”