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U.S. 64 Bypass Section Sees Many Accidents

A guardrail section on the U.S. 64 Bypass near Wendell is down again, and the state is trying to figure out why the highway is accident prone.

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WENDELL, N.C. — One part of the U.S. 64 Bypass near Wendell has seen a wreck that killed three people and dozens of spinouts in the rain, and guardrail cables that were recently repaired are down again.

The gap this time is about 50 feet from where a deadly Christmas Day crash happened. That time, an SUV crossed another downed cable, slammed into a car and killed three people.

A state Department of Transportation investigation shows 40 crashes within a half-mile of the wreck scene since the bypass opened in July 2005, 19 of those when it was raining.

One state attempt to find an answer came up dry.

“We actually had our Pavement Management Group go out and do a skid test to see if the road roughness is what it should be, and the test results for that came back very good, so we're happy with that,” Wally Bowman, a DOT division engineer, said Monday.

Engineers now are conducting another test to figure out if there is anything wrong with the way the road tilts for drainage.

Wendell Fire Chief Tom Vaughan’s department is the first-response agency for the stretch of the bypass where the accidents happen.

“I don't like seeing people hurt and killed when it can be avoided,” Vaughan said. “It’s typical government. If it was a private interest, those guardrails would’ve been put up long ago and maintained. It's just government.”

The DOT has a self-imposed seven-day limit for getting median repairs done and said Monday that the guardrail will be fixed before that.


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