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Cary residents: Guardrail needed to protect pedestrians

Posted May 21, 2010

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— Cary town leaders and residents are worried that a recent widening of Kildaire Farm Road has made a section of it less safe for pedestrians.

The state Department of Transportation added a sidewalk to both sides of Kildaire Farm Road, between Lochmere Drive and Penny Road.

Cary wants to move guardrail Cary wants to move guardrail

On one side, a guardrail is between the sidewalk and the road, but on the other side, the guardrail is behind the sidewalk, and only the curb separates pedestrians and vehicles.

"It just seems very dangerous, a very dangerous area, just waiting for somebody to get hit," Lochmere resident Camara Hiss said.

"It's a four-lane, 45-mph road, and people coming around a curve, outside a curve, and it's very dangerous," said Pat Easterbrook, who is a board member of the Lochmere Homeowners Association.

DOT officials said the guardrail behind the sidewalk is an extension of a rail on a bridge designed to keep cars and pedestrians from the edge.

"That's a fairly typical design all over Cary, all over Wake County and state," DOT deputy engineer Joey Hopkins said.

The stretch of Kildaire Farm Road is popular with local residents who use it to exercise and to get to the Hemlock Bluffs State Natural Area and nearby restaurants, shops and recreational facilities. Getting to the sidewalk that does have a barrier with the road would require crossing Kildaire Farm Road, which is also unsafe, residents said.

"What we really want is something between the sidewalk and the street. It would make sense to me," Easterbrook said.

Town leaders brought residents' complaints to attention the DOT, which owns the road. Town staff determined that it would take $65,000 to put up a guardrail and offered to do it.

DOT did not give the town permission to do so, citing, in part, long-term maintenance costs. DOT officials said they also didn't want to create a precedent.

Hopkins said there have no documented wrecks and no reported close calls on that stretch of road. Putting a guardrail in could change a safe design, he said.

"If you put a guardrail there, because it's right adjacent to the road, (it) may redirect traffic into something else," Hopkins said.

Town Councilman Erv Portman said the rod is an example of how a widely used design sometimes doesn't work. The town will continue to talk with the DOT, he said.

"I think what we're trying to do, what I'm trying to do, what the council is trying to is be a little bit more proactive than that," Portman said. "The bigger issue is let’s take pedestrian safety more into consideration when we’re building this kind of road in the future, so we don’t have this problem."

60 Comments

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  • wwwalker May 21, 2010

    "FYI... those were design students who won..." - sharonjoines3

    Two of the students had an engineering degree.

  • Pseudonym May 21, 2010

    The wussification of America continues...

  • ashishumesh May 21, 2010

    There used to be a wooden bridge right next to the bridge on the Kildare Farm Rd. Local residents, including a lot of young kids, used it to access the park and the playground. When widening the Kildare Farm Rd, the bridge was destroyed. Why not give our bridge back? It was safer because it separate children from traffics.

  • bj2o1o May 21, 2010

    FYI... those were design students who won...

    tgriffin, you think NCSU engineering produces inept grads? Take a look at this.

    "...the contest organizers were embarrassed that one university – NC State – had swept nearly every award in the competition...without the judges knowing the names or schools of the entrants, there was nothing sinister involved. Just skill."

  • wwwalker May 21, 2010

    sggoodri, roads with concrete curbs do not have speed limits above 45 mph.

  • sggoodri May 21, 2010

    There is usually a wider planting strip between the sidewalk and curb on 50 mph design speed arterials. The narrower strip makes this less pleasant but not particularly unsafe, at least for adults who aren't walking with young children.

    Adding a guardrail over the curb would probably increase the shy distance that cyclists would need to give to the edge of the road, making things a bit tighter for motorists overtaking cyclists. There are a few such guardrails on other thoroughfares in Cary (but not in front of sidewalk IIRC) and I find myself riding in the right hand tire track at those locations.

  • Whatthehey May 21, 2010

    Town of Cary should have known better than to ask for a guard rail, traffic light, or wider sidewalk there because he NC DOT policy and history of acting on these requests is very clear and consistent: it's "We'll do something about the problem after at least three people have been killed at that spot." That's what it has taken to get action at school crossings and on other poorly designed stretches or intersections. Hope the family of the first victim sues and gets N&O to investigate the incompetence, arrogance, and carelessness of the state officials.

  • Hasbeen May 21, 2010

    Of course, I have seen folks go 60, 70, 80, 90....on highways. In 5 years though, I do not think I have seen anyone doing 90 on "town" roads. Impossible no, but, very very very unlikely. If someone was able to do 90 on KF Road, the good folks of Cary would light up 911 so fast, their cell phones would crash

  • ncguy May 21, 2010

    well stephy runs- all our tax dollars go to the criminals from durham

  • Hasbeen May 21, 2010

    djhartm might want to look up some news on Carys current fiscal stability. No squandering. No property tax increase in 20 years!!! No deficit in this recession. Services as great as always. mmmm, luv drinkin that Cary-ade

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