To the editor,
Back in April, I wrote you to describe the frustrating and potentially hazardous traffic conditions that develop at times almost every day where the original section of eastbound Postal Way intersects Carolina Forest Boulevard. Regrettably, the intersection remains unimproved. A local resident described it at the recent Planning Commission meeting as, “a disaster”.
Postal Way will one day be extended behind Tanger Outlets to become a through road connecting Gardner Lacy Road with Waccamore Drive. This is reportedly part of RIDE III. I am unsure if RIDE III also includes reconstruction of the original section of the road, but this would be a good time for the County to unveil its design, timeline, etc. for accomplishing this, and indicate how it will be financed.
Newcomers may not know that Postal Way was never supposed to be a through road. The original section served only to provide access to businesses on the northern edge of the Kroger development, such as the post office. It originally terminated just beyond today’s Jersey Bagels & Subs. It was extended years later to connect to an access road for the high school because school buses crawling along 501 resulted in too much tardiness.
If you turn off the Boulevard to head west on Postal Way, within the first 150 yards you will pass on your left: two curb cuts for the BB&T Bank, a side street (Renee Drive), then a curb cut for the Family Medicine building and then another side street (Carolina Commercial); meanwhile on the right: two curb cuts for the post office, and then a side street cul-de-sac (Ronnie Court). Any engineering student in Highway Design 101 who proposed this for a through road would receive an F.
A new complicating factor is the application of the owner of the tract behind the former Gander Mountain store to change the zoning from highway commercial to Residential. Five hundred homes would be built, and the owner would donate the land for the right-of-way to extend Postal Way as a goodwill gesture. The Planning Commission rejected this 5 to 4, and I hope the Council will not overrule them.
(Again, for newcomers: The original agreement between the Council and International Paper regulating the conversion of a forest into a collection of developments specified that IP must build the Boulevard as a four-lane road with turn lanes and acceleration lanes (something like Highway 544). This was scrapped when IP donated land for the Highway 31 right-of-way, and a new agreement specified the Boulevard instead as the two-lane road we are still living with. Perhaps the offer of free land for Postal Way is not precisely comparable, but I myself stand as, “Once bitten, twice shy”.)
A consultant for the owner of the tract stated at the meeting that traffic from the stores which could be built on it without a zoning change would be, “Three times the traffic from 500 houses”. The derelict Gander Mountain store tells me this is not where I would locate stores, and the owner’s desire to build housing instead seems to confirm my thinking. Also, store traffic is largely spread throughout their opening hours, whereas residential traffic peaks in just an hour or so in the AM and again in the PM, and road systems must accommodate peak flows.
One of the Commissioners favoring the zoning change stated that the housing would happen anyway. I suppose I am resigned to this eventuality, but the County must effect the reconstruction of the existing intersection before they even think about extending the road.
Michael John Wills