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Roundabout foes shift focus to Hendersonville council

Revised plan for U.S. 64 improvements adds a fourth roundabout. Revised plan for U.S. 64 improvements adds a fourth roundabout.

LAUREL PARK — Residents and businesses who oppose a two-lane divided highway with roundabouts through Laurel Park are furious that a revised plan adds a fourth roundabout.

Adding a roundabout at Daniels Drive, the new plan also keeps the two-lane design with a grass median, bike lanes and sidewalks with a green buffer between the roadway and the sidewalk.
“For Laurel Park businesses, residents and individuals residing in the area, the regional growth and its associated challenges has arrived,” the Town Council said in a newsletter that hit residents’ mailboxes this week. “This has become most evident along the Brevard Road corridor and the difficulties associated with the current traffic patterns, flow and volumes. Roundabouts are a significant change for the road, but we believe they, as part of this comprehensive road design, are a positive feature for the Town, both now and for decades to come.”
Not so fast, roundabout opponents say.
In an email under the subject line “Who says it’s over?!?!” residents rallied like-minded neighbors and business owners to attend Tuesday night’s meeting of the Hendersonville City Council to speak against the revised plan.
The Hendersonville City Council should get involved because 35-40 percent of the U.S. 64 project is in the city’s zoning jurisdiction, the opponents say.
“It’s high time that Hendersonville demonstrate actual involvement in this project,” the email blast said. A website petition from the group, Fix 64 West, had 335 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
In its newsletter, Laurel Park Town Council reviewed the history of the U.S. 64 project. More than a decade ago the town asked regional transportation planners to add U.S. 64 improvements to the state Transportation Improvement Plan. The project reached the planning stage in February 2015 and proposed designs have been reviewed in November 2016, January 2017 and September 2017. After on the last design, the Town Council requested the additional roundabout. The council said roundabouts are safer and more efficient than conventional signalized intersections. The Laurel Park police department plans to offer courses on the use of roundabouts.
While making U-turn at a roundabout may add 60 to 170 seconds of travel time, waiting to make a left turn across traffic can be a similar or longer wait, the town said.
“The roundabout option is much safer,” the town said. “A small inconvenience to keep one from a serious injury or loss of life accident.”
Roundabouts will slow traffic, make the town commercial center more attractive and make businesses more viable over time, the town said. “Yes, we fully understand that some businesses will be affected more than others, but this road design will also better define this district to those transiting Laurel Park,” it said. “It will not be the high-speed thoroughfare of today.”
The newsletter contains five pages of roundabout facts, pictures and drawings.