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Safety, ironically, cited as one reason NCDOT won’t build barrier on I-140

With a posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour, residents fear the potential deadly...
With a posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour, residents fear the potential deadly consequences should an out-of-control vehicle barrel into a backyard. (Source: WECT)(Ryan Koresko)
Published: Jun. 6, 2019 at 4:59 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - For more than two years, residents of the Windsor Park community have pushed for a guardrail along the I-140 bypass, a portion of which lies adjacent to the Leland neighborhood.

But their request has hit yet another roadblock.

With a posted speed limit of 70 miles per hour, residents fear the potential deadly consequences should an out-of-control vehicle barrel into a backyard.

Responding to residents’ most recent concerns, Leland Mayor Pro Tem Pat Batleman drafted a resolution asking the N.C. Department of Transportation to install a safety guardrail. Town council unanimously passed the resolution during its April 18 meeting.

But early last month, the NCDOT denied the town’s request, saying the state agency could not place a guardrail where it is not warranted.

NCDOT’s response mirrors what the state agency previously told WECT and other media outlets – essentially, that federal and state guidelines prohibit the placement of a guardrail due to the dimensions of the space between the bypass and Windsor Park.

In an email to Leland’s town clerk, Karen Collette, NCDOT Division 3 division engineer, said the dimensions provide what is considered by design standards as an “adequate clear zone,” meaning the area does not warrant a barrier in accordance with the design.

“It would be placing a hazard closer to the travel lanes, where thousands of vehicles travel each day, and creates a liability and potential threat to the traveling public along this facility,” Collette wrote in the email. “If NCDOT places [a] guardrail where it is not warranted, we could be liable for any damages/injuries caused by that guardrail. The guardrail actually becomes an obstruction/hazard within the required clear zone recovery distance.”

Collette even went so far as to say she would “strongly discourage” the installation of a guardrail, should someone decide to do it outside of NCDOT’s right-of-way on their own.

During the town’s Transportation Oversight Committee meeting on Thursday, Batleman said NCDOT’s decision was disappointing.

“As far as the warrants that are needed to be fulfilled when these kinds of decisions are made, this particular area just doesn’t fit that bill, so unfortunately that does kill it," Batleman said. “The town isn’t in the business of road construction, so there’s really nothing we can do and I’m unhappy about it.”

“I wish there was something we could do for those folks,” she continued. "They certainly have tried very very hard and we’ve also tried to help as well.”

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