PINEHURST TRAFFIC CIRCLE:
IMPROVE IT - DON'T DESTROY IT!
The Pinehurst traffic circle is located in our National Historic district and has served as an iconic gateway to our village for over 65 years. The circle consists of 6 acres of mostly longleaf pine trees bordered by attractive plantings and shrubbery. I want to improve the Pinehurst traffic circle—not destroy it.
In June of 2022, after almost a decade of study, the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NC-DOT) presented the Village Council with a recommendation “to fix” the traffic circle. The NC-DOT proposal was to construct a Continuous Flow Intersection (CFI). That is a harmless sounding name but here is what it would take to implement CFI:
Chop down every tree in the traffic circle—all 6 acres
Replace the circle with a rectangle intersection complied of concrete, asphalt, traffic lights & turn signals
The entire project would take 2-3 years and cost from $50 to $60 million dollars
Cause Beaver Lane to be turned into a cul-de-sac eliminating the current access on Midland Road and requiring drivers to drive to the entrance of Pinehurst #9 to access Midland Road
It would also likely require the cutting down of all the crepe myrtle trees in the center median Highway 15/501 from the circle to the entrance to Pinehurst Manor (and probably beyond).
NC-DOT projects that if CFI is implemented it may amount to 3 to 4 minutes of time saved by drivers in the circle during peak hours.
The neighborhoods most negatively impacted by CFI’s 2–3-year construction project would be Pinehurst Manor, Pinehurst Trace, Pinehurst #6 and Village Acres.
Over the years, many citizens and publications—besides myself-- have commented on the traffic circle or in opposition to the CFI proposal:
January 26, 2023: Letter from Village of Pinehurst Mayor & Village Manager: “Unfortunately, a majority of the Council is not able to support either of the options currently being considered for updating the traffic circle intersection, those being the continuous flow intersection and the 211/15-501 ‘flyover’ option, at this time. While it seems that either of these options create substantial positive operations improvements, they are too impactful in a negative way to the special character of our village and the integrity of our National Historic Landmark.”
January 8, 2023: The Pilot editorial stated: No one including us, wants to see the iconic Traffic Circle blown up and replaced with a soul-less urbanized intersection.”
December 15, 2022: former Pinehurst Mayor Nancy Fiorillo wrote on a website: “I like the traffic circle the way it is—slow down & let people merge.”
August 14, 2022: Deborah Salomon, a columnist in The Pilot wrote: Keep the Pinehurst Traffic Circle, Fix How People Drive the Circle.” (Signage, drivers, attitude & enforcement)
July 17, 2022: John Nagy, editor of The Pilot authored a column with the headline: Traffic Circle Plan leaves Us feeling a Bit Loopy”
July 10, 2022: The Pilot editorial: “Idea for Circle Doesn’t Square” read: “Is such a radical change necessary? Traffic is growing, but enough to merit such a change? For a relatively short period out of a 24-hour day? Probably not.”
June 28, 2022: Councilwoman Lydia Boesch stated at a Council meeting: “When I see pictures with concrete & traffic lights in the middle of that traffic circle, it’s like a knife in my heart.”
June 28, 2022: Councilwoman Jane Hogeman stated at a Council meeting: “It’s an impact on the character of the village. It’s an impact on the historic character. We’re in a National Historic District, and that traffic circle is part of it.”
June 5, 2018: Opinion column in The Pilot by a Pinehurst businessman on the state Board of Transportation: The engineers were charged with designing improvement to the intersection, but their charge had one caveat: The circle had to remain intact. This charge was at the request of local elected officials, including myself, and it was received in good faith.”
April 22, 2015: Fayetteville Observer: “Village officials have said they’d like to improve traffic flow around the circle, but want to keep it because it is distinctively Pinehurst.”
Until August 27, 2023 no candidate seeking elective office in the Village of Pinehurst---for Mayor or Council--expressed support for CFI. On that day on a local radio (WEEB) show mayoral candidate Dr. Jeff Morgan surprisingly announced he had changed his mind and now supported CFI. My opposition to the elimination of the traffic circle and the removal of all the long leaf pine trees remains unchanged.
In the entire state of North Carolina there is only one CFI and that is in Charlotte—a metropolitan area of 2.8 million people. The greater Pinehurst/Southern Pines/Aberdeen metropolitan area has a population of just over 50,000 people.
Standing up for Pinehurst may involve challenging the NC-DOT plans—but if that is what it takes I am ready for that assignment.