SLW Board, Residents Review Back Gate Enhancements


Insider Staff Writer

With traffic backups increasing on N.C. 211 through West End, interest has been picking up among Seven Lakes West residents about potential enhancements to the development’s back entrance.

The rear gate, located off N.C. 73, is unstaffed and exclusively for residents now. It would remain unstaffed for the foreseeable future, but the community Infrastructure Committee has been developing plans that would allow the gate to handle additional traffic, such as visitors, delivery trucks and contractors.

Matthew Kitchen, a DOT engineer and a resident of Seven Lakes West, gave a special presentation on the proposed back gate changes to a packed community room of about 100 residents on Tuesday May 30.

The project was intended to be finished in time for when DOT begins actively widening 211 through West End in the fall of 2024. However, the back gate job has not yet been approved by the board and delays are already ongoing on 211 as crews work to remove trees and clear out right of way for the construction.

One of the chief concerns among members of the Seven Lakes West Board of Directors has been cost, which prior boards had estimated around $350,000.

“It is a lot of money,” Kitchen agreed. “Putting asphalt in the ground is an expensive proposition, But to sit on it for three or four years thinking costs are going to come down, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

The back gate enhancements center around physical changes and technological upgrades. Physically, the current entrance to the back gate would be altered to create — like the front gate now — dual entry lanes, one for visitors and one for residents.

The residents’ lane would have cameras to read RFID tags, which would then automatically raise the gate. The visitors’ lane would have technology installed that would allow guests, delivery vehicles or contractors to enter in their information or scan a QR code.

If visitors are allowed entrance, two gates would open to allow passage. If they are denied entry, only the first gate would open, allowing the vehicle to access a turn around lane and depart. The second access gate would remain closed.

“It’s a very simplistic design,” Kitchen said, saying the enhancements could help alleviate back-ups that occur now at times at the front gate.

Although preliminary drawings show a guard shack at the back entrance, Kitchen said there are no plans now to staff it, but it would be available in the future if the association decides to do so.

Erik Stromberg, who co-chairs the Seven Lakes West Safety and Security Committee, said the back-age enhancements would improve safety on N.C. 73, which can get backed up at times when a large vehicle like a tractor trailer gets directed erroneously to the back gate.

Stromberg, who serves as fire chief for the West End Fire Rescue Department, said his crews get called to come help with traffic when a tractor trailer has to back out of the rear entry onto N.C. 73.

“There is no way for the guards (at the front gate) to open the back gate,” Stromberg said. “It is a safety concern.”

Both Kitchen and Stromberg said Seven Lakes West has to find a way to prevent traffic from backing up onto N.C. 211 and 73 because of the safety hazards that creates. Ultimately, Kitchen said, the DOT could force the association to remove its gates if traffic tie-ups grow severe.

Board president Jack Roberts said association residents should expect to see a future “town hall” meeting regarding the rear gate project before any decisions are made.

Contact John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or