FAYETTEVILLE – State transportation officials have been making crosswalk improvements in Fayetteville as part of an increased emphasis on pedestrian and traffic safety.
Since 2013, the N.C. Department of Transportation has made crosswalk improvements at more than 30 Fayetteville locations – and several more are planned for the city.
NCDOT spends about $77 million a year on signalized crosswalks, traffic signals, roundabouts and other small, but important safety improvements. The projects, which come from all highway divisions, compete with each other for funding, and they take time to design and acquire new right of way. One project can cost several hundred thousand dollars.
Most of the crosswalk improvements completed in Fayetteville have included pedestrian signals to help people safely cross an intersection with traffic lights. NCDOT created this interactive Google map showing the locations of the improvements and ones under design.
Some of the improvements were marked crosswalks constructed between intersections where people frequently cross, such as at Fayetteville State University. And at four locations on Cedar Creek Road near I-95, new crosswalks were equipped with a rapid flashing beacon that pedestrians activate by pushing a button to warn motorists. The crosswalks also have high-visibility markings and a pedestrian refuge island in the middle of the road.
The department consults one of its partners, the Fayetteville Area Metropolitan Planning Organization, which also helps fund some of the crosswalk projects. NCDOT also collaborates with the city of Fayetteville, which builds sidewalks to connect new crosswalks and sometimes contributes to the cost of a project. For instance, five signalized crosswalk locations are under design for heavily traveled Bragg Boulevard between the Eutaw Village Shopping Center and Sycamore Dairy Road.
“We are committed to making our city more walkable and pedestrian friendly, and we are certainly very appreciative of what NCDOT has done to help us increase these kind of improvements across Fayetteville," said Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. “But I want to emphasize that we need to get people to pay attention to where they cross – use marked cross walks when crossing roads if at all possible.Take the time to look for signed crossing areas, so you can cross safely. It’s just not worth risking your life.”
The improvements are aimed at reducing the number of pedestrians struck by vehicles. In 2016, 94 pedestrians were struck in Fayetteville and seven of those people were killed. Two years later – after more crosswalks had been installed – 87 pedestrians were struck and one person died. While that’s an improvement, the goal is for no one to be hit by a vehicle.
“Some people are ignoring our crosswalk improvements and crossing the road and not paying attention,” said Janet Whetstone-Perez, the Division 6 regional traffic engineer. “The chances are high that you are not going to walk away from a mistake.”
Whetstone-Perez investigates fatal crashes, evaluating how to improve roadway safety. The department’s traffic engineers chose the crosswalk locations, in part, based on data that includes pedestrian crash history, traffic volumes and the average speed vehicles are going on the corridor.
NCDOT officials offer these safety tips for pedestrians and drivers:
- Use a crosswalk and follow the pedestrian signals, if available.
- Always look for traffic before stepping into a crosswalk.
- Pedestrians and drivers should never assume they see one another.
- If you aren’t near a crosswalk, you may use a raised median as a refuge while crossing the road. But don’t loiter in the median.
- Always be aware of your surroundings – whether you are walking or driving.