Local News

No Light at the End of Road Widening Project Causes Concern Near School

Posted December 7, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— You would not expect to see a school built on a busy five-lane road, so who would build a five-lane road in front of a school? Raleigh would and is.

Durant Road is about to get widened to five lanes with a 45 mile an hour speed limit. Traffic is already a point of concern for parents and teachers. Now there are even more worries.

It is a basic lesson in morning frustration atDurant Road Elementary. Car poolers, commuters, and buses create a traffic mix than many would give an "F."

Now add this to the equation: Raleigh wants to widen Durant Road from three to five lanes, and there are no plans to install a traffic light with the new lanes in front of the school.

The principal thinks someone is going to get hurt.

"I'm concerned about the children, that's my main issue," says Starr Braswell. "Safety for kids is vitally important, and I think all of us should be mainly concerned about that."

A main concern for bus drivers and parents: making a left turn across the proposed five lanes of traffic, without a light. It is already tough enough making it across three lanes.

"Because you just can't get out of here, and I always fear that there's going to be an accident, because people are going into the middle turn lane just trying to get over and it's just a mess," one parent says.

It is busy here during the morning rush, and it is busy in the afternoon when school gets out. The rest of the day, traffic is light. That is one reason the city says a traffic light is not needed.

The city says the widened road will be safer during busier times of the day.

"Typically, they will actually experience less congestion on the five-lane road than they do on the three-lane road that is out there," says Raleigh traffic engineer Carl Dawson. "There's more capacity on a five lane, and there are generally larger and longer gaps."

A half-mile from the school there is a traffic light at the landfill. Parents say the city cares more about trash than kids. The city says it cares about everyone's safety.

At Durant Road Elementary, they say no one is safe without a light.

Construction is expected to start on the two-year widening project this summer.