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Return To Four-Lanes On Lake Park Blvd Has Begun

Crews working for the North Carolina Department of Transportation began grinding up asphalt on Lake Park Blvd in Carolina Beach Tuesday April 24. The road will be resurfaced and returned to a four-lane traffic pattern. This follows a failed Road Diet implemented a couple of years ago reducing the road to two lanes with a center turn lane and bike paths behind diagonally parked cars. That resulted in massive congestion and public outcry.

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Crews working for the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) began a project Tuesday April 24, to return Lake Park Blvd in Carolina Beach back to a four-lane traffic pattern.
The project is the result of a failed "Road Diet" traffic pattern implemented a few years ago by the NCDOT at the request of the Town of Carolina Beach.
The Road Diet reduced the four-lane road to two lanes with a center turn lane and bike paths on either side of the road behind diagonal parking spaces. That pattern led to public outcry about traffic congestion sometimes backing up north to Snow's Cut Bridge and South to the neighboring Town of Kure Beach. Not just on busy holiday weekends or normally busy summer weekends, but also traffic backups during the normal weekdays.
The Road Diet included the area on Lake Park Blvd from Carl Winner Avenue south to the area just before the Carolina Beach Lake.
The Town Council voted unanimously to revert to the original traffic pattern on Lake Park Blvd with four lanes and angled parking at their August 23, 2011 meeting. At that time it was estimated to cost over $200,000 to return to the old pattern in use for 30 or 40 years.
Town Manager Tim Owens explained to Council in a memo regarding their March 13, meeting, "Received an update on the resurfacing of Lake Park Blvd. The milling and resurfacing was bid and it appears on budget. The contractor is aware of the time frame as to when the project needs to be completed. We stressed that the resurfacing needed to be completed as soon as possible but definitely prior to Memorial Day."
The Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest of the season.
The Road Diet resulted in traffic backups during busy summer months during peak and non-peak times of the week.
Holiday weekends have always been busy for traffic throughout Pleasure Island, but the Road Diet resulted
in people waiting for upwards of 40 minutes to travel from neighboring Kure Beach to Carolina Beach. Many motorists were frustrated with people on bikes traveling through Town morequickly and freely than vehicles. Business owners grew frustrated when customers would express concerns about not being able to get in or out of their parking lots.
Residents expressed concern about increased traffic on traditionally quiet residential side streets because residents and tourists would aggressively seek alternate routes.
The Town attempted to curtail congestion on Lake Park by erecting a sign on Lake Park Blvd at Ocean Blvd to divert traffic west to Dow Road.
That resulted in traffic backups which angered many residents since Dow Road traditionally served as a back-road for locals to avoid tourism traffic during the summer months.
By diverting traffic, the Town also created congestion on Dow Road. At times backing up traffic in front of the Carolina Beach Fire Department. Many residents expressed concerns about ambulances an fire trucks not being able to respond as quickly to emergency calls because of traffic grid-lock on Lake Park or Dow Road at various times throughout the day. At least one business owner at the Brew-Thru on N. Lake Park Blvd outside of the Road Diet area would often have to dawn a bright colored vest and  stop traffic to let people out of his parking lot.