In response to numerous crashes, including two fatalities, new flashing lights will be added to signs near the intersection of Ferry Road and N.C. 101.
The new warning lights are scheduled to be installed this month, said Steve Hamilton, Division 2 engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Hamilton described the lights as flashers that would be mounted to existing intersection road signs about 350 feet on either side of the intersection of N.C. 101 with N.C. 306, also known as Ferry Road.
“It will be tied to detectors in the pavement so that when there’s a vehicle approaching that’s getting ready to turn from 306 onto 101, the flashers will come on letting traffic know that there’s a vehicle entering,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the placement of the signs was in response to multiple crashes at the intersection over the last five years.
“We did a study of the intersection and noticed a pattern of people getting hit coming out, so we’re going to try to do something to help resolve that,” Hamilton said.
The study was prompted by a July 3, 2013, crash that left two dead and four injured when a car attempting to make a left turn from Ferry Road onto N.C. 101 was struck by a truck headed toward Havelock.
Hamilton said that in the five-year study period, there were 11 crashes at the intersection. Four crashes involved vehicles making left turns onto N.C. 101 and four crashes involved vehicles making left turns onto Ferry Road. From 1991 to 2008, there were 35 crashes involving 17 injuries at the intersection, according to a traffic safety report from DOT.
Hamilton said the cost of the project is $28,400, which includes the lights, underground wiring, loop detectors and design costs. By comparison, regular traffic signals can cost $150,000 to $250,000, he said.
He said that there are no current plans to put stop signals at the intersection, which is widely used by vehicles headed to or from the Cherry Branch-Minnesott Beach ferry, about four miles from the intersection down Ferry Road.
“We’ll have to see if the crashes continue and what the pattern is and what could be contributing to the causes,” Hamilton said. “No matter what we do it’s going to rely on the drivers to act responsibly when they are driving, to make sure that it is clear before they go.”
Craven County Commissioner Theron McCabe, who represents the area and lives on Ferry Road, is also a volunteer firefighter who has responded to crashes at the intersection.
“It’s a dangerous intersection because a lot of people are not really paying attention and they do not stop at that stop sign and look both directions to avoid collisions,” he said. “I think having this caution light will reduce the numbers of accidents we have in the future.”