July 4th crash prompts safety review

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
ATWELL TOWNSHIP — Ask residents who frequent Camp Wesley Grocery and they all can tell about a collision at the intersection of Deal and Unity Church roads.
“It’s the main thoroughfare from China Grove to Mooresville,” said one resident.
The intersection is highly traveled and speeding is common. Statistics show there have been eight collisions in the past five years.
One of those wrecks occurred during the July Fourth holiday, when five people, including two children, were injured when a car failed to yield at a stop sign.
On Monday, N.C. Department of Transportation crews made safety improvements to the roadway.
The improvements include:
• Upgrade to stop signs on Deal and Unity Church roads. Signs went from 36- by 36-inch to 48- by 48-inch.
• Installation of a “Stop Sign Ahead” warning sign on northbound Unity Church Road.
A similar warning sign is already in place on southbound Unity Church Road.
• Relocation of one “Intersection Ahead” warning sign on Deal Road and replacement of the other.
• Trim the tree limbs along northbound Unity Church Road.
• Installation of stop bars along Unity Church Road.
Stop bars are 24-inch-wide lines painted on the pavement across the travel lane to frame the intersection that are designed to help drivers see where they need to stop and look before proceeding through the intersection.
Despite the improvements residents say it’s not enough.
Henry Efird, owner of Camp Wesley Grocery, said two or three years ago he witnessed a girl who was killed at that intersection and later that same day, another collision.
He’s been in business since 2003.
“It’s mostly people not paying attention,” he said.
Efird also attributes a lack of signage as an issue. Crews have put up new signs.
He said the DOT is “trying hard to make improvements.”
“They’ve done all they can,” Efird said.
Traffic is at its heaviest in the early morning and during the hours after school.
Jamie Murphy who lives in the area said traffic is “slow and go” because motorists blow through stop signs, most barely stopping.
“I don’t think it will make a difference,” he said.
Murphy travels the road twice a day to take his wife to and from work in Mooresville.
He suggests a caution light just like the one at the intersection just a few miles past the store.
The problem, said one resident who didn’t want to be named, is the trees.
“You can’t see past the trees,” he said.
When told work crews cleared tree limbs already, the man said more needs to be done.
He also recommended a caution light. “Since I was a boy there has always been a problem at this intersection.”
Akura Rickett hopes the changes will make a difference. “Only time will tell. It’s hard to say.”
He too thinks the cause of many of the accidents are the result of people in a hurry. He also believes some residents who travel the road frequently are too familiar and just keep moving.
The work crew was expected to work through Friday, but finished in one day.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.