Local News

Cary residents: Guardrail needed to protect pedestrians

Posted May 21, 2010 12:54 p.m. EDT
Updated May 21, 2010 7:09 p.m. EDT

— Cary town leaders and residents are worried that a recent widening of Kildaire Farm Road has made a section of it less safe for pedestrians.

The state Department of Transportation added a sidewalk to both sides of Kildaire Farm Road, between Lochmere Drive and Penny Road.

On one side, a guardrail is between the sidewalk and the road, but on the other side, the guardrail is behind the sidewalk, and only the curb separates pedestrians and vehicles.

"It just seems very dangerous, a very dangerous area, just waiting for somebody to get hit," Lochmere resident Camara Hiss said.

"It's a four-lane, 45-mph road, and people coming around a curve, outside a curve, and it's very dangerous," said Pat Easterbrook, who is a board member of the Lochmere Homeowners Association.

DOT officials said the guardrail behind the sidewalk is an extension of a rail on a bridge designed to keep cars and pedestrians from the edge.

"That's a fairly typical design all over Cary, all over Wake County and state," DOT deputy engineer Joey Hopkins said.

The stretch of Kildaire Farm Road is popular with local residents who use it to exercise and to get to the Hemlock Bluffs State Natural Area and nearby restaurants, shops and recreational facilities. Getting to the sidewalk that does have a barrier with the road would require crossing Kildaire Farm Road, which is also unsafe, residents said.

"What we really want is something between the sidewalk and the street. It would make sense to me," Easterbrook said.

Town leaders brought residents' complaints to attention the DOT, which owns the road. Town staff determined that it would take $65,000 to put up a guardrail and offered to do it.

DOT did not give the town permission to do so, citing, in part, long-term maintenance costs. DOT officials said they also didn't want to create a precedent.

Hopkins said there have no documented wrecks and no reported close calls on that stretch of road. Putting a guardrail in could change a safe design, he said.

"If you put a guardrail there, because it's right adjacent to the road, (it) may redirect traffic into something else," Hopkins said.

Town Councilman Erv Portman said the rod is an example of how a widely used design sometimes doesn't work. The town will continue to talk with the DOT, he said.

"I think what we're trying to do, what I'm trying to do, what the council is trying to is be a little bit more proactive than that," Portman said. "The bigger issue is let’s take pedestrian safety more into consideration when we’re building this kind of road in the future, so we don’t have this problem."