LUMBERTON – Two roadways in Robeson County will be the focus of a new, nationally sponsored safety initiative, state transportation officials meeting in Lumberton announced today.
The corridors are a 12-mile section of N.C. 711 in the Pembroke area and a 15-mile section of Great Marsh Church Road near the Bladen-Robeson county line. On those two roadways, a combined 11 people have died in crashes over a recent five-year period. Another 82 crashes involving injuries occurred along those two stretches.
Numerous agencies and local institutions will work in a collaborative approach that seeks to identify strategies to reduce crashes and eliminate deaths along these two roads.
“DOT is saying we are willing to put all options on the table that we can justify as a solution,” said Kevin Lacy, the state’s traffic engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation. “Let’s come up with some strategies that will work on these corridors. If we are successful, we believe we can spread those strategies to other corridors.”
Lacy spoke to members of the Robeson County Vision Zero task force, a grassroots-led group of community stakeholders who kicked off a campaign last year that seeks to reduce crashes and save lives across Robeson County. For years, the county has been ranked worse in the state for overall crashes, based on a variety of data, including the severity and number of crashes per capita. Robeson County has high rates of deadly crashes involving people not wearing seat belts, or they are speeding or drinking and driving.
The task force’s efforts already are paying off. According to preliminary data by NCDOT’s Mobility and Safety Division, 48 people died in roadway crashes in Robeson County in 2018. That figure is down from 53 in 2017.
“This study and intensive effort we are going to give these two corridors will save lives in Robeson County,” said Grady Hunt, a Robeson County member of the state Board of Transportation who also leads the task force.
NCDOT and the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program have identified these two corridors to be part of a Rural Route Safety Initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association. The program identifies highways with high rates of crashes and fatalities and then seeks to find innovative solutions, using a four-prong approach of engineering, education, enforcement and emergency response.
The department has made recent improvements to N.C. 711, including adding high-visible pavement markings and constructing a roundabout. For the new initiative announced today, volunteers will be recruited to review both roads and report back recommendations in the coming months.