By Dave Russell
Citizens for River Road Safety, a group comprised of residents along South and North River roads, continues to push for safety on the winding roads through their community.
Webster Mayor Tracy Rodes said she can see improvement since the group formed and began their campaign.
“The county has been responsive,” she said. “We saw a patrol officer parked where he could see both South River and the other side of the river. Speeding has decreased significantly on North River.”
North River Road is the more dangerous of the two, with more blind curves and narrow lanes, she said.
“The lanes are a little too narrow to accommodate dump trucks, but it is the speeding that makes it so serious, and the increased traffic.”
She believes the dump truck traffic, part of the citizens’ group’s complaints, has slowed down and many are going below the speed limit.
“I got several reports,” she said. “I do think it has calmed down. I feel like somebody got the word to the dump truck drivers.”
Representatives of the group met Aug. 1 with N.C. Department of Transportation officials, just one of many entities they have talked to as they try to slow traffic.
“We’re looking to see what is possible,” Division 14 Engineer Brian Burch of NCDOT said last week. “The overarching thing is safety. The things they feel are creating the safety issue is the speed and the number of trucks on the road, and the volume of traffic in general, which they feel has increased.”
NCDOT is pulling together a study of accidents on the road, going back five years, he said.
“We’ll see if there is a crash issue and something we need to address,” he said. “They were concerned about vehicles leaving the road and the lack of guardrails, particularly on South River.”
Guardrails were installed on North River Road recently, he said.
The intersection of South River Road and N.C. 107 was a concern discussed at the meeting, Burch said. NCDOT is examining records to see if there is an accident history and see if there is a common type of accident happening there and what might be done to make it safer.
Eric Myers, a member of Citizens for Road Safety, said the group reached out to N.C. Highway Patrol and they have seen at least one trooper on South River Road since then.
“They agreed to look into it,” Myers said. “They have a process whereby they do intermittent patrols over a period of weeks and over 30 days they produce a report. We’re supposed to get back with them at the end of August.”
Lowering the speed limit would make the roads safer, he said.
“In the areas where there are more curves, it would give everybody a little more time to get back in their lane safely and to see people who have stopped,” he said. “You’d have more time to process what’s in front of you.”
Enforcement is the issue, Myers’ wife, Pam Krauss said.
“I don’t know enough to know if lowering the speed limit would lower the speed,” Krauss said. “But here’s the thing – the existing speed limit is not being met because it is not being enforced. If the county commissioners give the sheriff his budget, it’s reasonable to ask them for help not only for the river roads but for anywhere there is a speeding problem.”
The group remains determined.
“The members I have spoken to are not ready to throw their hands up and say, ‘This is not going to work,’” Krauss said. “We’re pretty determined. It’s a quality of life issue, aside from the safety issue.”