Mount Holly council takes first step to improve intersection

by Alan Hodge

The Mount Holly City approved a plan to improve a confusing, busy intersection due to officials’ concerns about future traffic accidents and fatalities.
The $225,000 plan, approved at the council’s Sept. 12 meeting, modifies the intersection of Ferstl Avenue and N.C. Hwy. 273 by removing several sections of existing roadway, including the acceleration ramp from Ferstl Avenue and Beaty Road on Hwy. 273. The section of road is a part of the traffic lane that allows drivers to exit Hwy. 273 where Beaty Road and Ferstl Avenue converge.
“We need to be proactive to the potential for accident,” said Councilman Jim Bishop, who mentioned a recent accident at the intersection as a reason that he supports moving forward with the plan. “We should not wait until somebody gets killed.”
Improvements also include installing two large traffic islands, widening the end portion of Beaty Road that intersects Ferstl Avenue, and creating more distance between the Ferstl-Hwy. 273 intersection and the entrance to Carolinas Rehabilitation.
Council members Bishop, Jim Hope and David Moore voted in favor of the plan, while council members Carolyn Breyare, Perry Toomey and Bennie Brookshire voted against the proposal leaving Mayor Bryan Hough to cast the tie-breaking vote.
The two other plans considered by the council involved realigning Ferstl Avenue at a cost of $249,000 and simply removing the existing acceleration lane on N.C 273 at a cost of $9,100. The city hired engineering firm Merrick and Co. to perform a traffic study on the intersection, which yielded the three options presented at the meeting.
Breyare supported the $9,100 option, calling it “a no-brainer,” but Moore said that he found the cheaper plan to be merely a band-aid to the traffic problem.
The traffic study came with a $28,000 price tag, but a grant from the Gaston Urban Area Metrolina Planning Organization meant that the city was required to pay only $5,600, or 20 percent of the total cost. The grant is a part of funds the organization regularly distributes to the municipalities of Belmont, Lowell, Gastonia and Mount Holly for roadway projects.
“No money has been designated by the City for construction at this time, but after construction documents have been created, city staff can determine when and how to pay for the project,” said Mount Holly City Planner Brian DuPont.
Merrick and Co. has until Dec. 31 to complete construction documents.

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