Each year more than 2,400 pedestrians are hit by vehicles in North Carolina, making our state among the least safe states in the United States for walking. On average, about 160 pedestrians are killed annually in North Carolina.
In collisions with cars, pedestrians have a lot to lose. Those hit at 40 miles per hour have an 85 percent chance of dying according to the Governor’s Highway Safety Office. This is why the North Carolina Department of Transportation has undertaken a program designed to reduce walker fatalities.
“Pedestrian safety projects are being developed around the city especially along new or resurfaced roadways,” said David Thipps,
North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Regional Traffic Engineer for Fayetteville.
Glensford Drive between Raeford Road and Morganton Road has high visibility marked crosswalks and three roundabouts all of which are designed to protect pedestrians in their conflicts with motor vehicles. In one spot, a unique, fenced corral of sorts was installed on the center median at Berean Baptist Academy to harness children as they move across the busy road.
“All major transportation improvement projects include improved accommodations for pedestrians,” says Thipps.
These projects include the installation of a center median along Owen Drive that is now underway between U.S. 301 and the All American Expressway. Marked crosswalks are planned in areas where there has been a history of pedestrian fatalities in recent years. Coincidentally, as Up & Coming Weekly has reported, a sidewalk is set for construction along the entire east side of Owen Drive. Raeford Road will get similar center medians and will also include crosswalks with high visibility markings. Both are similar to the project undertaken a couple of years ago along Ramsey Street. When the median was installed along Ramsey Street, crosswalks were not included. But now, according to Thipps, they’ll be retrofitted at some of the major intersections.
Thipps points out that smaller paving projects like the one along Eastern Boulevard and Grove Street downtown included pedestrian crosswalks at signalized intersections. Crosswalks are also going in along Eastern Boulevard at Russell Street, Pamalee Drive and Murchison Road as well as in-town sections of Bragg Boulevard. He says there are 14 funded safety projects earmarked for Fayetteville. Thipps says his office and Fayetteville City Traffic Engineer Lee Jernigan work closely together to improve pedestrian safety. Both say the heavily travelled cluster of hotel and hospitality outlets along N.C. 53 (Cedar Creek Road) at Exit 49 off I-95 has received significant safety upgrades with additional crosswalks. The area has become a major problem for travelling motorists, says Thipps.
“We’re always looking for additional opportunities to improve pedestrian safety,” he said.