The Fayetteville Observer, N.C., Myron Pitts column
Mar 01, 2013 (The Fayetteville Observer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The decision by the N.C. Department of Transportation to add medians to Ramsey Street was not exactly met with cheers and confetti.
Several readers called or wrote in to complain about them, and Behind the Wheel didn't think much of them, either.
We found them to be somewhat homely and intrusive. To us, they seemed to create a needless annoyance for businesses along the busy road, because drivers wanting to reach a business on the other side of the road now had to drive past the business and do a U-turn.
But statistics show the medians have an advantage that dwarfs the rest of the issues: They make Ramsey Street safer.
The DOT evaluated the road for six months, from July 1 to Sept. 30, from Country Club Drive to the Outer Loop (Interstate 295). That's traffic ground zero for Ramsey Street, with a Walmart Supercenter; restaurants and other businesses; Northwood Temple and its school; and Methodist University.
There were 68 accidents in that period, which should put the road on pace for 136 crashes in a year, according to the DOT. For the three-year period before completion of the medians, the road had 774 crashes, or an average of 258 per year.
Additionally, the new medians and landscaping were meant to reduce specific kinds of crashes related to a center turn-lane -- left turn crashes, side-swipes, rear-end collisions, etc. Those are on track to be reduced from 55.3 per year to zero, if the numbers hold.
Considering that every car accident can lead to serious injury or death, that's a reduction in accidents that simply cannot be ignored.
It also becomes hard to argue against the Transportation Department's plans to put similar medians and landscaping on Raeford Road. Saving people's lives comes first.
However, one wishes that a more attractive presentation could be found for the medians. Rows of little trees maybe One hopes the DOT has the room to be a little more creative next time around.
Columnist Myron B. Pitts can be reached at email@example.com or 486-3559.
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