Local News

Family Wants Guardrail Between Them and I-85 Traffic

Posted February 2, 2007 8:36 p.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2007 9:30 p.m. EST

— A family living a stone's throw from Interstate 85 in Orange County says its time for the state to help protect them, but the state Department of Transportation is making no commitments.

“It's not very far to the highway. If a tractor-trailer came down there, that'd be it,” said Stephanie Umstead. She worries about letting her daughter Kaylee, 4, play in their yard.

In the two years the family has lived off I-85 near Hillsborough, four cars have come speeding off the interstate, crashing into their yard, Umstead said. She has several trashed trees and a leaning utility pole to show for it.

The latest wreck was the day after Thanksgiving.

“It sounded like an explosion out here, and I came out and I saw smoke all over the place and I saw a someone trying to climb out of the car,” Umstead remembered Friday.

“I just want a guardrail. I don't want a brick wall. I don't need a sound barrier. I just need something at the top of that hill that I know is gonna keep me safe and stop somebody from coming down here and running into my home,” she said.

DOT District Engineer Chuck Edwards sent a survey crew to Stephanie Umstead's house, and he said the state is investigating whether a guardrail is the right move. Steel beam guardrail costs $25 a foot, and state funds are limited.

The DOT said engineers will make a decision on the guardrail request in about two weeks.