Local News

Neighbors Say Site of Fatal Accident Needs Signal

Posted October 13, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— As rural areas become booming bedroom communities, quiet country roads become busy commuter routes overrun with cars.

Highway 55 is a major thoroughfare for people traveling to work in RTP. During rush hour it's clogged with traffic, and anyone who tries to cross through the rush is risking his life. Neighbors of the intersection, where a woman was killed Monday morning, say the accident was a tragedy waiting to happen.

Monday morning, a car tried to cross Highway 55 and was struck by a pickup truck. One woman died, and two other people were injured. People in the community say the site of the wreck is a treacherous intersection.

Despite several pleas from the community, the North Carolina Department of Transportation had refused to install a traffic light, but Monday afternoon DOT officials said they have agreed to take a second look at the problem.

Farmer Lee Phillips wouldn't ride a bike on Highway 55 today, the once rural route is now a major thoroufare... On this morning three of Phillips employees were involved in a car accident at 55 and Carpenter Fire Station Road, one woman died.

For years people in the Carpenter Community have lobbied the state to put a light here. Brian Edwards runs a corner store there. He recalls several occasions when he assisted in the rescues of people from their wrecked cars.

News of the recent accident spread quickly among locals. Resident Sue Phillips says it appears officials were waiting or a tragedy before acting on the problem.

Traffic officials studied the intersection last year and came to the conclusion that it did not fit the criteria for needing a traffic light. Now, they are rethinking that position.

Monday morning, DOT officials said the intersection did not meet the guidelines for a traffic light, and that they couldn't justify stopping traffic on a busy commuter highway.

The change in attitude at DOT came about during the day, after the deadly crash. In light of that accident, they say, they will take another look at easing the traffic problems here.

Photographer:Rick Armstrong