On April 13, NCDOT presented a modified plan of the N. Highland Lake Road project (U-5887) to the Flat Rock village council at a special council meeting, held in the new parish hall at St John in the Wilderness.
We’re looking at how that modified plan will affect the road, and here we take a look at the large curve on the edge of The Park at Flat Rock, near Highland Lake Drive and Highland Park Road.
Much of this part of the modified plan follows the original October 2017 plan, with extensive inroads into the park, expanding the roadway significantly in order to dampen the curve, eliminating all trees in that area, and adding left-turn lanes, possibly with concrete islands.
We have been told that this curve is dangerous and needs to be changed for safety reasons. This is not correct. From 2011 to 2016, traffic accident data shows that only three accidents out of 91 total occurred in this area.
Of those 91 incidents reported on N. Highland Lake Road, 45 occurred at or near the intersection of Spartanburg Highway and N. Highland Lake Road, a section of the road that NCDOT has already widened and straightened, and where NCDOT has already added left-turn lanes.
An additional 24 incidents occurred east of the railroad tracks and a total of 11 incidents happened at the intersection of N. Highland Lake Road and Greenville Highway. That leaves 11 incidents over five years on the rest of N. Highland Lake Road.
There are no recorded traffic incidents from 2011 to 2016 of a left-turn accident on N. Highland Lake Road outside of the intersections with Greenville and Spartanburg Highways and the area around Ingles and the CVS Pharmacy.
According to traffic studies, it may well be that the current width of the lanes (11 feet each), the visual border of trees, the railroad tracks, the curves in the road, and the lack of left-turn lanes work to keep the traffic slower and safer than would a wider road with dampened curves, left-turn lanes, no trees–and faster cars.