Safety improvements are underway at a problematic Haywood County truck stop entrance

Safety improvements are underway at a problematic Haywood County truck stop entrance

For months, some Haywood County residents have expressed concerns that the entrance to the truck stop off Interstate 40 would cause backups and debris. Now, crews are working to make safety improvements.

Work is underway to change the way traffic flows in and out of the Pilot Travel Center off NC 209 in Haywood County. When the work is complete, drivers, Pilot and NCDOT officials said it will be safer.

Cathy Helms lives in the area and routinely drives the road.

“There have been accidents at the Pilot station with cars and small trucks, just daily traffic due to trucks coming in and out of Pilot,” she said.

Her neighbors took photos of the hitches with tractor trailers being backed into the travel lanes of NC 209.

The problem area caught the attention of Pilot officials, who sketched out a new design for the corridor that met Department of Transportation requirements.

The plan included reversing the direction of traffic in that area to accommodate a larger number of vehicles. The end result should be better traffic flow in and around the gas station, NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said.

Work continues now. At first it was confusing, Helms said.

“No one was passing the signs. They were just coming in and out as they wanted. But now they have someone there directing traffic.”

The Pilot station on NC 209 is the last place truck drivers can fill up before heading across I-40, so it gets crowded at the best of times. Nearby bridge works are adding to congestion along the highway. Some truck drivers were trying to turn around, Helms said. I took a photo on Monday of what sometimes happens on smaller roads.

“He flipped over, but it was on someone’s private property and he tried to go around I-40,” Helms said. “And there’s nowhere to go. If you’re going to Tennessee, you stay on I-40.”

Although there will be congestion times on the highway, especially when there is one lane between mile markers 18 and 20, the Department of Transportation and the Pilot expect easier travel in and out of the truck stop soon.

“Once they’re done building, it’s going to be cool because they’ll go into one of the two entrances, go around the building, fuel up, and then come out the exit,” Helms said. “The pilot is trying.”

“We have been working with the Department of Transportation and consultants to relieve congestion along Highway 209,” said Jack Reamer, construction development project manager for Pilot Co. “Last week, we adjusted the flow to relieve some traffic. We expect all routes to be operational in the first quarter of 2024, providing more capacity and resulting in more efficient traffic flow.

(Tags for translation)Pilot Travel

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