Commissioners look to improve crosswalk safety
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS — With several near misses lately, town commissioners are looking for ways to improve the safety of crosswalks in town, particularly the one at Jetton Park in Cornelius.
During the Monday, Feb. 20, meeting of the Board of Commissioners, Town Manager Anthony Roberts said town staff has been re-examining NC Department of Transportation standards to see how they can make the crosswalks safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
“Right now, DOT law says a pedestrian has to step out into the line of traffic for cars to stop,” Roberts said. “Well, me against a car doesn’t work out too good. So many people think the cars will stop, but they don’t always, and we’ve had some near misses, no fatalities, thank God, and hopefully we never will, but that’s why we’re looking at our options.”
Roberts said they’ve considered rumble strips, speed bumps, and the like, but the option they’re leaning toward is a pedestrian-triggered light that will flash red, forcing cars to stop, so a pedestrian can cross.
Roberts said this would replace the yellow flashing light that’s at Jetton Park now, and will act like a stoplight when there’s pedestrian traffic.
“Obviously Jetton Road is a road that shows up with the most significant issues, but this is not unique to our town,” said Commissioner Chuck Travis. “We have issues like this throughout the town, especially on Catawba Avenue. When you’re trying to cross, people don’t stop.”
Travis said if town staff is looking to improve the crossing at Jetton Park, they need to examine options for the rest of the town’s crosswalks.
“There’s one at Smithville Park, too, and a guy trying to cross to the bus station there has been hit two or three times,” Travis said. “It’s a really significant issue and not one we should take lightly. It’s a lot more than just Jetton Road.”
Roberts said he and staff will continue to do their research and have cost estimates for the work to commissioners at their next meeting, March 5.
“In the interim, I encourage drivers to be cognizant, especially as the weather gets warmer, be cognizant of people crossing that road, and pedestrians, too,” said Commissioner Lynette Rinker. “It’s a dangerous place and we’re lucky we haven’t had someone hurt.”