The council voted 6-3 Monday to approve a plan that would expand parts of Weaver Dairy Road, a two-lane road, to three lanes. The earliest the plan would be approved by NCDOT is next week.
The council had approved a similar measure Jan. 22, 2001, but NCDOT did not approve that plan. NCDOT instead had recommended a four-lane road.
The council's current plan is more comprehensive than last year's. A section of Weaver Dairy Road running from Erwin Road to U.S. 15-501 also is recommended to be made three lanes, a change from the former plan.
Council member Edith Wiggins, who voted against the plan Monday, said the proposed widening seemed inappropriate given NCDOT's response last year. "It is absolutely ridiculous."
Wiggins added that the NCDOT had already refused the plan.
"I don't think NCDOT will widen the road to three lanes," she said. "We have a letter (from NCDOT) saying that they don't think widening the road is a good use of state money."
Council member Pat Evans, who also voted against the plan, said she has doubts about the plan being approved. "I'm not going to bet on it," Evans said. "I agree with (NCDOT's) position that it would not be a good use for state funds."
Evans said she had sided with the last year's DOT recommendation for a four-lane road. "I supported the four-lane road with a divided median," she said. "It provides a safer option. Even the town engineers said it would be safer than a three lane road."
But council member Bill Strom said some members of the council believed a four-lane road would create more problems than it solved. "Some of us on the Town Council feel a wider road in an attempt to ease traffic congestion could induce more traffic," he said.
Strom said there is a chance the council's plan could be approved because the personnel makeup of NCDOT is different. "My feeling is it's a 50/50 chance at best," he said. "It's worth one more conversation with the NCDOT to find out if we have common ground with the NCDOT regarding traffic volumes, safety and wise investment of state money."
NCDOT engineer Derrick Weaver said that if the department approves the council's recommendations, the project would cost about $5.1 million and take a year and a half to complete.
Weaver also noted that the council's plan is very similar to the one NCDOT did not approve. "I don't see this as any different than what's been asked for before, but that's not to say they won't approve it."
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