Speed limit to be reduced on Catfish Lake Road

catfish lake road

Chad Mills, N.C. Department of Transportation traffic services supervisor, pounds a stake in the ground Friday where one of the new speed limit signs will be placed on Catfish Lake Road. The DOT announced Friday that it will lower the speed limit from 55 to 35 mph on the dirt road. The signs go up on Tuesday.

Drew C. Wilson/Havelock News
Published: Friday, March 14, 2014 at 03:28 PM.

The N.C. Department of Transportation announced Friday that would reduce the speed limit on Catfish Lake Road to 35 mph after a series of deadly crashes.

The news brought tears to JoAnne Hernandez, whose daughter, daughter’s fiancée and three grandchildren died in an April 17, 2011, crash on Catfish Lake Road.

“Oh my God. Finally, they’re doing something,” Hernandez said Friday when told of the news.

There had been no posted speed limit on the dirt and gravel road just west of Havelock that separates U.S. 70 from N.C. 58, meaning the speed limit was 55 mph or what is considered a safe speed. Hernandez lost her family when the car in which they were driving went out of control and flipped into a roadside ditch where the five drowned.

“This is a good thing to drop the speed limit and that the police are going to patrol, but how often are they going to patrol?” Hernandez said. “This is a start though. This is a start. The speed limit’s great, but they need to put guard rails up by that water.”

According to DOT statistics, there have been seven fatalities and 48 injuries over a five-year period from 2009 through 2013. However, that does not include two Camp Lejeune Marines who died on Jan. 6 when their car rolled into the roadside canal.

Steve Hamilton, DOT District II engineer, said the continued frequency of severe crashes played a part in the decision to reduce the speed limit and put up speed limit signs.

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