MOREHEAD CITY — After hearing an outpouring of concern about traffic safety on Highway 24 as it related to a recent rezoning request, the Morehead City Council will ask the N.C. Department of Transportation to lower the speed limit on a portion of the highway from 55 to 45 mph.
The city council held a public hearing May 19 on a request to rezone 23 acres of undeveloped land off Highway 24 that drew a large crowd. The opposition’s main argument against the request centered on concerns that adding development on Highway 24 would exacerbate existing traffic safety issues on the road and result in an increase in accidents along the stretch.
Though the city council ended up voting 3-2 to rezone the property, some members said they would address the concerns by working with the NCDOT on some fixes, such as lowering the speed limit and making intersection improvements.
City manager Ryan Eggleston presented such an opportunity Tuesday during the city council’s monthly workshop meeting held at the municipal building on S. 8th Street. He introduced a draft resolution asking NCDOT lower the speed limit on the highway that the council will consider for adoption during its next regular monthly meeting Tuesday, June 8.
The draft resolution proposes lowering the speed limit from 55 mph to 45 mph on Highway 24 from the Highway 70 intersection to Lewis Murdoch Road. Morehead City Police Chief Bernette Morris said Lewis Murdoch Road was chosen because it’s 1 mile outside the city’s corporate limits, which represents the extent of the department’s enforcement jurisdiction.
However, Councilman George Ballou said he’d like to see it extended further west and recommended asking the NCDOT to lower the speed all the way to McCabe Road. The other council members agreed, and Mr. Eggleston said he’d revise his draft resolution.
“I was hoping to go all the way to McCabe Road, that would encompass Brandywine (Bay subdivision),” Mr. Ballou said. “From what we heard, speed is a very big factor out there.”
It’s ultimately up to the NCDOT to decide whether to enact the speed limit change. Councilman Bill Taylor informed his fellow council members Tuesday he had recently met with state representatives who told him the agency is preparing to do a traffic count study on Highway 24 that will be used to help make a determination.
“They assured us that when the traffic study was finished, they would have the data they needed to establish, and it’s their responsibility to establish where (to change the speed limit),” Mr. Taylor said. “They take our recommendations to heart but the final decision will come from them after that study.”
Contact Elise Clouser at firstname.lastname@example.org; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.