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Kanuga roundabouts remain in NCDOT plans for South Gateway

Although the Hendersonville City Council expressed a desire on Thursday to minimize roundabouts' impact, three proposed traffic circles remain alive for Kanuga Road and the Main-Church-King streets intersection.

 

The roundabouts are part of the NCDOT's recommended improvements to accommodate the projected traffic volume in the city’s South Gateway area through the year 2040. An NCDOT engineer presented the latest design for two roundabouts on Kanuga — one at White Street and a more compact one at Hebron Road — and one where Church, Main and King meet. The state transportation engineers have recommended moving Hebron north to align with White Street rather than the other alternative — moving White Street south to align with Hebron. Property owners on White Street and Kanuga strongly oppose the roundabouts and instead favor upgraded traffic signals and turn lanes.
“It’s very difficult to imagine the price they would all pay if a roundabout is chosen,” said Ken Gordon, the owner of Norm’s Minit Marts, which has a convenience store, laundromat and gas pumps on Kanuga at Hebron Road. “I would prefer to see — because traffic does flow, there are not that many accidents — myself and other businesses would prefer to see an improvement of the signalized intersection at White Street and turn lanes added.”
DOT engineer Jonathan Woodward said traffic signals were an option — on Kanuga and on South Main Street — but that the transportation planners recommended roundabouts.
“At a roundabout you don’t have to stop every time for a red light,” he said. “You’ll yield to traffic that is in the circle. Typically, there is less delays with a roundabout configuration. It also encourages lower speeds.”
While motorists tend to speed up to make the light at traffic signals, “a roundabout naturally makes you slow down as you come to that approach,” Woodard said. “A roundabout also reduces conflict points. At a 4-way intersection, there’s a lot of conflict points where vehicles can collide. In a roundabout you’re always moving to the right so it reduces conflict points and statistically roundabouts are safer than signalized intersections” and safer for pedestrians.
Councilman Jerry Smith asked the engineers to draw a plan showing how traffic in and out of businesses on Kanuga and White Street would work with a roundabout and with a traffic signal. Woodard said the NCDOT could produce those within a couple of weeks. Smith asked when does the agency need the city’s position on which traffic solutions?
“Ideally, as soon as we could. We are in the design process,” Woodard said. “We can’t just look at what’s there today. We have to look at what’s going to be out there in the future.”
Woodard spent little time on another piece of the overall plan — a White Street extension from Greenville Highway to Spartanburg Highway. The proposed route of that road would take part of the rear parking lots of the Walgreen’s and Wendy’s, appears to take part of The Loft restaurant and would go through property now occupied by Jones Commercial Properties. Gary Jones, the commercial real estate broker whose office is on the property, said he had received a response from surveyors on the project saying there’s been no change in the route.