LUMBERTON — The roundabout that is expected to give motorists an easier and safer path to downtown Lumberton is six months ahead of schedule and could be open by Christmas.
The circular intersection that links North Water Street, West Sixth Street and West Elizabethtown Road has been under construction by the North Carolina Department of Transportation since July. Original estimates had the project almost a year, with a completion date of June 2017.
But Chuck Miller, a supervisory enginees with the Transporaton Department, says it will be open before then.
“The contractor is well ahead of schedule on the project,” said NCDOT supervisory engineer Chuck Miller. “They are doing their best to be open by Christmas.”
The $1.1 million project began with the city of Lumberton applying for $556,000 federal funding, but when funds were allocated, they went to the NCDOT. That state agency then expanded the scope of the project to $1 million after which Lumberton added $100,000 for further improvements.
A final lift of asphalt was being added Thursday, then the roads will be striped, painted and signs will be installed next week. After that, cleanup work will begin, a final inspection will take place and if all is well, the road could be opened for the holiday season.
It gives motorists coming from Interstate 95 and Carthage Road a less confusing path downtown, including to the courthouse, alleviating traffic jams that often occurred at a three-way intersection of North Water Street, West Sixth Street and West Elizabethtown Road.
“This is an exciting first kickoff project,” said Richard Moore, president of Rediscover Downtown Lumberton. “It will be an attractive addition. As time goes by we will be doing enhancements for all the area around there and down to the river. Eventually, we will beautify this entire area.”
The new traffic pattern is intended to ease the flow of traffic through downtown Lumberton, save the expense of powering traffic signals and be safer for pedestrians. Crosswalks will be installed across three legs of the roundabout and a slip lane will be built so that drivers traveling through town on Water Street can continue straight without entering the circle.
The project called for moving power, water and fiberoptic lines of AT&T.
The roundabout replaces traffic signals at what was considered a tricky four-way intersection of Water Street, Sixth Street and Elizabethtown Road. The new intersection sits slightly north of the old location.
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