Local News

Recurring Accidents Not Only Factor For Placement Of Traffic Lights

Posted April 23, 2004

— Many drivers think recurring accidents at an intersection are the determining factor for installing traffic lights. The truth is it is just one of the criteria the state uses.

The state

Department of Transportation

recently studied the intersection of Holly Springs Road and Kildaire Farm Road and decided it needed a traffic light, but motorists are not expected to see a signal in that intersection anytime soon. The traffic and accident counts are about the same at highways 55 and 64 near Apex, but engineers expect new traffic lights by October.

The difference between the two areas is that developers have agreed to pay for stoplights near a new shopping center.

"We conduct our study at every location the same way," DOT engineer John Grant said.

In the Triangle, Grant leads the DOT team that recommends where the lights go, and the first thing on the list may surprise people.

"Traffic volume, primarily, is the driving force behind whether a signal should go in. Accidents play a part, but they have to be accidents that are deemed correctable by the installation of a traffic signal," he said.

There have been dozens of wrecks at Avent Ferry Road and Tryon Road. That intersection is ranked 16th on a traffic light priority list, but a new traffic light is years away.

"There is limited funding that goes out on a statewide basis," Grant said.

The top five intersections on the DOT list for traffic lights are N.C. Highway 42 at Hilltop, Route 1010 at Crowder, U.S. Highway 158 at Oxford Academy, U.S. Highway 401 at Judd Parkway and U.S. Highway 401 at Purfoy Drive. Only three of the intersections will get construction money in the coming fiscal year.

"They don't happen overnight," Grant said.

The state sets aside $9 million a year for traffic light improvement programs. The Triangle's list of traffic light requests totals just over $3 million.

DOT workers are installing a traffic light at another troublesome intersection. In February, WRAL reported about people making dangerous U-turns to get to the Waverly Place Shopping Center. Cary town leaders

installed barriers

to prevent accidents at Tryon and Waverly Place. WRAL has learned that the developer is paying to have a stoplight installed at the intersection.

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