Local staff with the Department of Transportation have made solid moves to help alleviate problems along U.S. 421 at Kader Merritt Road in the southern end of Sampson. Whether those moves will be enough remains to be seen.
That’s why we hope DOT officials will do as they’ve said and monitor the situation closely, reassuring parents and school officials that the concerns they’ve raised are being closely watched and that other fixes will be forthcoming should the ones being put into place now not work as expected.
Union District advisory members and officials with Sampson County Schools have urged DOT to take a careful look at the intersection of Kader Merritt and U.S. 421, an area that, many say, has become dangerous, particularly for students leaving Union High School.
In the last five years, there have been eight pretty serious traffic accidents at that intersection, and they were serious enough, DOT officials said, to warrant some improvements to the area.
While those improvements do not include a caution light or stoplight — two things hoped for by many in the Union District — they will include a much larger stop sign with reflectors on the posts to draw more attention to the intersection, as well as a healthy coat of paint to the median and striping along the roadway. In addition, a yellow 45 mph sign will be added to intersection signs at the intersection.
Travelers and residents in the area should see those changes being made within the next 30 days.
It is hoped that the improvements will alleviate the problems caused by congested traffic in the morning when school is taking in the mornings, and in the afternoons, when students are leaving. But some fear it won’t be enough.
While we are advocates of erecting caution lights and stop lights if they are warranted, regardless of the money they might cost, we also understand that sometimes the thing most wanted can also cause more problems. DOT officials have said that stoplights can often cause more harm than good and bring with them more, albeit less serious, accidents.
Whether that will be the case at Kader Merritt Road remains to be seen. First we must see if the initial fixes alleviate the problems as hoped.
Union District Advisory Council president Tammy Tew has been very vocal about the needs and noted in an interview last week that the biggest problem is how traffic lines up at the stop sign at Kader Merritt, with three lanes of travel being made where only one lane is supposed to be.
That is a recipe for disaster and may not be something a stoplight, alone, could fix.
We hope parents will work with their teenagers on using caution when traveling in the areas, stopping for the stop sign, staying in one lane of travel only and following the rules of the road. And we hope DOT doesn’t close its eyes to the concerns once the first improvements are made.
We aren’t ready to call for a stoplight at the intersection yet, choosing to see if the DOT fixes will be, as we hope, enough. But we do urge attentiveness to the problems now and over the next few months, with DOT communicating its findings to school officials and parents.
If the problems persist, then we hope DOT, on its own, will take the next steps.
Time will tell.