Local News

Controversy Surrounds Plans to Close Road in Clayton

Posted May 17, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT

— A plan to close down a road in Clayton is causing controversy. But, in a departure from the usual problems, it's not money that's the problem. It's a dangerous railroad crossing.

For some members of an African-American community in Clayton, the Smith Street crossing offers quick access to the rest of the town. They say they will be inconvenienced if the crossing is closed, and that emergency vehicles will have limited access to that area.

"If you think about it, if you have an emergency, it's so easy to cross here ... and sometimes it's a matter of minutes in getting to somebody," said Catherine Sanders, a resident of the affected area.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says the convenient look of the crossing is deceiving.

"You don't dart across that one like you do some others," said Durwood Stephenson of the N.C. Board of Transportation. "It's got a high incline. A vehicle like a fire truck or something, [there's] a good chance it would scrape bottom. They don't use that intersection."

Officials also say the fact that two people have been killed at the intersection attest to the danger lurking there.

Some members of the community still say they want the crossing left as it is, but safety, says Stephenson, is their top priority in the decision to close.

"It's been my primary objective," said Stephenson. "To make sure that when you travel our streets and roads you feel safe, and that's what this Smith Street closing is all about."