Changes planned for NC intersection where 9-car crash was caught on video; driver charged with DWI

North Carolina news

GRISSETTOWN, N.C. (WECT) – Preliminary plans are still alive to improve the Brunswick County intersection where North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers responded to a nine-car crash last weekend.

The video captured by a dash camera captured the entire accident. The footage looks like something straight out of an action movie, with a speeding truck plunging sideways through the two lines of cars stopped at the light, and debris catapulted high up in the air.

The driver was charged with DWI and driving without a license, but everyone survived the high-speed crash near Sunset Beach that happened on Dec. 26.

It’s not the first crash at N.C. 904 and U.S. 17, and it’s unlikely to be the last. In 2018, two people died after a truck collided with their van.

The N.C. Department of Transportation (NC DOT) records show the intersection clocked 64 crashes per the 57 million-plus cars that entered the intersection, according to the average annual daily traffic counts.

With traffic expected only to grow in the area, the agency has drafted preliminary plans to improve the intersection. However, this isn’t a new effort.

Back in 2019, the department held a public meeting about the proposal.

”It’s called a reduced conflict intersection,” said NC DOT spokesman Andrew Barksdale. “When we install this design — when you’re on 904, when it’s safe to do so, or you get a green light, you will only turn right; but, if you wanna go straight or go left, you first go right and then you go one or two football fields length, and then you get into a separate dedicated turn lane.”

It’s the same approach in place up in Leland, and its primary goal is to ease the congestion, which also makes the intersection safer.

“This design allows for the intersection to operate more efficiently without having to add lanes and to add more lanes we start knocking down buildings,” said Barksdale.

According to the DOT, those kinds of additions drive up the project price and kick the construction timeline further down the road.

The first step — securing the right of ways — is slated for 2027. The actual money to construct the new reduced conflict design isn’t in the books yet.

“In the current 10-year plan, this project is not currently funded for construction. The idea is every couple years when we update this plan, we can move it up,” said Barksdale. “ I think this project is a priority and it will score well and be competitive in future funding cycles.”

The department hopes by the fall of 2022, they’re able to give construction the green light.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill could also provide the NC DOT the cash infusion needed to bump projects like this higher on their punch lists.

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