One of the foggiest locations in the county, and the site of recent numerous accidents, will undergo some adjustments in the coming weeks.
At a recent Watauga County Commissioners meeting plans were shared to help improve the intersection of US 421 and Old 421 near Deep Gap. Mike Pettyjohn, North Carolina Division 11 Engineer, tells WataugaOnline.com that a redesign will take place so that traffic signal heads will be placed closer to the stop bars which should help motorists see them better during foggy conditions.
Pettyjohn went on to add that NCDOT will place advance warning flashers on Old 421 as well as flashers in the median on US 421. There are already flashers on the outside lanes of US 421 prior to the signal.
He said that NCDOT is hoping to get the flashers on Old 421 installed within the next 6 weeks. The remainder of the work will probably be around the first of the year. He noted, “We are having the signal plans developed now and we will have to give our contractor time to mobilize.”
Changes to the traffic lights came about from concerns brought up by the Commissioners and others due to the accidents, according to Pettyjohn.
Also in attendance at that meeting on a different matter was Dr. Scott Elliott, Watauga County Schools Superintendent. He tells WataugaOnline.com that he appreciates the attention that the county commissioners and the Department of Transportation are giving to that intersection. Elliott said, “The dangers that occur in that intersection are well known, but I am especially concerned because of the high volume of traffic coming to and from Parkway School. The location and timing of the traffic signals, the travel distance across the intersection, the excessive speed and inattention of drivers, and the regular occurrence of dense fog are all hazards.”
“We instruct our bus drivers to proceed through the intersection only after seeing that oncoming traffic has stopped. During periods of thick fog they have to open their windows and listen for traffic before proceeding. Anything that can be done to improve safety in the intersection is greatly appreciated.” Elliott also noted.
Drawing showing the changes courtesy of NCDOT.