Back in 2018 the Town of Murphy coordinated with North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) to examine how to solve traffic flow and pedestrian safety issues in downtown. NCDOT hired Vaughn & Melton Consulting Engineers to study this issue. The plan that came out of this study recommended bringing the travel lanes down to one in each direction with a center lane that could be used for turning and truck parking; and installing a one-lane roundabout. This was the most efficient configuration to move cars through downtown while increasing the safety for drivers and pedestrians. This plan has been reviewed by 2 mayors and 2 sets of Town Council. It's a plan 5 years in the making.
- Fast forward to January 2022. NCDOT let the Town of Murphy know that they would be milling and repaving the roads throughout Downtown Murphy. This was the perfect opportunity to reorient the lanes through downtown to make it safer for pedestrians and cars parking in on-street parking spaces.
- The Town asked NCDOT to model multiple scenarios for the intersection at the center of town including a dedicated left turn lane in each direction and a one-lane roundabout. The model showed that the option of dedicated left turn lanes would have caused more delays downtown. The option that worked the best (and better than the current situation) for traffic flow was a roundabout.
As a result, NCDOT agreed to do the following after the roads are milled and repaved:
- Restripe the roads through downtown thereby bringing 4 lanes of traffic down to 3 lanes (one lane in each direction with a turn lane/truck lane in the center)
- Use the extra space gained with the elimination of one lane to extend the length of on-street parking spots
- Replace the traffic signal with a one-lane roundabout
The benefits will include:
- Increased pedestrian safety (less lanes to cross, refuge in the center, lower speeds)
- Longer parking spaces
- Better traffic flow
- Dedicated space for delivery trucks
In Winter 2023/Spring 2024 NCDOT will be milling and repaving the four main roads in Downtown Murphy. This includes:
- Hiwassee Street from the center of town to US74,
- Tennessee Street from the center of town to the bridge over the Hiwassee River,
- Peachtree Street from the center of town to US74, and
- Valley River Avenue from the center of town to the bridge over the Valley River.