Gnarled traffic along Kader Merritt Road as it intersects with U.S. 421 has caught the attention of the Union District advisory council, most particularly its president who made an impassioned plea for help in solving what she called a dangerous problem that impacts all the schools — and students — in the area.
Local Department of Transportation officials have now been alerted to the situation and are researching the issue to see what, if anything, can be done.
Tammy Tew and members of the Union District Advisory Council would love to see a stoplight at the Kader Merrit Road intersection with U.S. 421 and a caution light at River Road, but DOT officials said none of that could be determined until after a traffic count and more research was completed.
“We are sending someone down there this week to take a look at the situation,” said Lin Reynolds, DOT district engineer. “I’m not sure there is going to be enough traffic volume to justify doing anything, but we will assess it and see.”
Reynolds said if heavy traffic is a problem for only the 15 to 30 minutes before school takes in and lets out each day, it likely would not be a situation that DOT could do anything about, as it relates to erecting traffic or caution lights.
“I know they’ve got a light at Midway, but there is a big traffic difference there,” Reynolds pointed out.
The DOT engineer was referring to a traffic light that has been erected at U.S. 421 where it intersects with Hollerin’ Road, the crossroads beside the new Midway High School.
At that school, a large percentage of students drive cars versus boarding buses unlike Union where a larger percentage of the traffic is a combination of bus and car/truck traffic.
“But that’s why we’re taking a look at the situation down in the Union district. Until we do a traffic count and other assessment, we really won’t know what we can or can’t do.”
But Tew was adamant that the traffic situations along both roads — Kader Merritt and River roads — warranted serious attention.
During her presentation last week at the Sampson County Board of Education meeting, she devoted much of her allotted time to making an impassioned plea for help with that traffic.
“It’s dangerous out there,” an emotional Tew said near the end of her advisory report. “I have a 16 year old and I worry a great deal. Thank God no ones been seriously hurt out there so far, but I’m telling you there are problems.”
Tew said she loved the Union district and thanked the board for all it had done for the schools in the area, but she urged them to take a closer look at the traffic safety. “I’m begging you to look at this situation. Anything the board can do, DOT, someone … we need people to get involved and get this taken care of as soon as we can.
“I know you guys do everything you can, and we are very blessed here and really appreciate all that you’ve done for us. But, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m supposed to do if I didn’t mention this concern. It’s a big one and I pray you’ll help us with it,” Tew stressed.
Board chairman Telfair Simpson, as is customary with most requests brought before members, said they would take it under advisement.
Reynolds said he was called the following day.
“They want us to give them a report on the situation and that’s what we are going to do. Hopefully we’ll have some idea in the next week.”