Traffic worries delay vote on Lenoir middle school

Nov. 20, 2013 @ 09:41 AM

Some neighbors of the proposed middle school next to Hibriten High School are worried about traffic hazards the school will cause, and that held up Lenoir City Council approval of some permits for the school property Tuesday night.

Caldwell County Schools officials were seeking a rezoning, conditional use permit and flood plain development permit for construction of the school, planned between Taylorsville Road and Wilkesboro Boulevard adjacent to Hibriten High School. But only the rezoning request was approved, and a decision on the conditional use permit and flood plain development permit were postponed to the city’s Committee of the Whole meeting next Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

The extra week will give school officials time to consult a property owner about the possibility of moving an entrance on Taylorsville Road farther to the south, to align with Moose Lodge Road. Current plans show the entrance to the school meeting Taylorsville Road between Moose Lodge Road and the entrance to Evans Funeral Home, creating three intersections on Taylorsville Road in a stretch of about 120 feet.

Teresa Barlow, Jonathan Barlow and Anne Gragg, who all live on Magalene Lane off of Moose Lodge Road, told the council Tuesday night that the amount of traffic on Taylorsville Road already is high, and adding the school entrance could mean more wrecks.

“As it stands now, I don’t think it’s well thought out,” Barlow said.

A straight intersection with a traffic light, they said, would ease the traffic situation.

But City Manager Lane Bailey said that Taylorsville Road, also designated N.C. 90, is a state road, so a traffic light would require action by the N.C. Department of Transportation.

A representative from the civil engineering firm Wright and Associates, which is working for Caldwell County Schools on the project, said that traffic impact studies show that the school would increase traffic on Taylorsville Road from 458 vehicles to about 660 vehicles between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., the busiest time of the day for the area.

Councilmen Ron Stilwell, Ben Willis and T.J. Rohr said they were worried about traffic at that proposed entrance.