Local News

DOT Has Action Plan For Dangerous Intersection At Wake Tech

Posted August 22, 2003 4:34 a.m. EDT

— Officials at Wake Techical Community College are calling for changes along Highway 401 near the school's entrance. The stretch of road has been the site of four wrecks this week -- the latest occuring Friday morning.

Four vehicles were involved in the wreck that happened at 7:20 a.m. Three people suffered minor injuries; one person was transported to Western Wake Medical Center.

A 19-year-old Wake Tech student is in critical condition after a truck slammed into her car at the school's main entrance Thursday. It was the first of two crashes in the same spot on the same day.

Some believe it is only a matter of time before someone is killed at the intersection.

"We just heard the smash and I walked down and saw the cars coming to a stop. It didn't look too good to me," said Gary Stokes, a campus employee who witnessed three crashes this week.

"This is a pretty bad intersection," Stokes said. "When the green arrow doesn't turn green and let you go, you just have to fend your own way across."

Responding to concerned calls from students, their parents and WRAL, the state Department of Transportation sent a team of traffic engineers to look at the trouble spot.

"We're taking a look and making sure that the signal is operating properly and then we'll take a look to see if there's anything that could be done to make any improvements," DOT engineer John Grant said. "I'm aware there's a concern with wanting to reduce the speed limit and we'll take that into consideration when we're looking at this location."

One issue that is in the discussion stage is keepng the green arrow off of Highway 401 into Wake Tech. During rush hour when many of the wrecks have occurred, the DOT takes away the green arrow to keep traffic moving along Highway 401.

The Department of Transportation has worked with the school to make improvements, but Tommy Rhodes, the college's vice president, said Wake Tech and the highway have outgrown those solutions.

"We've got over 11,000 students here at the college. There is traffic buzzing up and down Highway 401," Rhodes said.

Students are pulling out into traffic that is going 55 mph. The school wants the DOT to lower the speed limit to 45 mph.

"At least you'll lower the severity of the accidents and we think we'll lower the number of accidents as well," Rhodes said.

As traffic speeds along, plans to put on the brakes are slow to come. The DOT told the school that lowering the speed limit would only clog an already crowded stretch of highway.

The DOT and the highway patrol both say the start of Wake Tech classes earlier in the week increased traffic in the area.