NCDOT Considering Safety Improvements For Lake Park Blvd.

 A child has passed away following an accident Friday morning, March 22nd, in Carolina Beach when a Jeep hit the female child and a woman at the intersection of Cape Fear Blvd and Lake Park Blvd. On Monday April 1st, Town officials met with the North Carolina Department of Transportation at the intersection to discuss ways to improve safety on the State owned highway A child has passed away following an accident Friday morning, March 22nd, in Carolina Beach when a Jeep hit the female child and a woman at the intersection of Cape Fear Blvd and Lake Park Blvd. On Monday April 1st, Town officials met with the North Carolina Department of Transportation at the intersection to discuss ways to improve safety on the State owned highway

NCDOT Considering Safety Improvements For Lake Park Blvd. Featured

By / Local News / Tuesday, 04 June 2019 15:12

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation met with officials from the Town of Carolina Beach on Monday April 1st at the intersection of Lake Park Blvd and Cape Fear Blvd to discuss improving safety along Lake Park Blvd at various locations. That follows the death of a young child on March 22nd at that same intersection. The child passed away following the accident when a Jeep hit the female child and a woman.

NCDOT replied on Monday June 3rd to requests from Town officials for safety improvements at locations on Lake Park Blvd.

According to Carolina Beach Police Detective Sergeant Scott Hettinger, "Just after 10:00AM on March 22, 2019, Carolina Beach Police Department, Carolina Beach Fire Department and New Hanover County EMS were dispatched to a call involving a motor vehicle collision with pedestrians. The incident occurred at the intersection of South Lake Park Blvd and Cape Fear Blvd. in Carolina Beach."

He explained, "Emergency responders rendered aide to the pedestrian victims, who are described as an adult female and female child. Investigators on scene determined both victims were struck by a vehicle. The female and child were transported to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for further treatment. After advanced lifesaving medical treatment, the child later succumbed to the injuries and died."

On March 25th, Hettinger explained, "The pedestrian victims involved in the fatal collision were related as grandmother and grandchild.  The adult pedestrian victim is identified as Catherine Hagelstein a 56-year-old female and the juvenile pedestrian victim is identified as Cora Kruger a 1-year-old female, both of Inlet Acres Dr., Wilmington, N.C.  The driver of the vehicle involved in the collision is identified as Heather Ligotino a 39-year-old female of Huron Dr., Wilmington N.C.  At this time there is no impairment of drugs or alcohol suspected. The location of the vehicle and pedestrian collision did occur within a marked crosswalk. The adult victim has injuries which have been reported as non-life threatening.

The driver was charged with Misdemeanor Death by Motor Vehicle and Failure to Yield to a Pedestrian and was arrested for the charges and subsequently released by the Magistrate on a written promise to appear in court.

According to Stonewall Davis Mathis, PE - NCDOT Division 3 Deputy Division Traffic Engineer, "In regard to some more insight on our direction for the intersection of Lake Park Blvd and Cape Fear Blvd, we offer the following.  We just recently completed the installation of accessible pedestrian push button [crosswalk] signals at this intersection which are more user friendly for visually and hearing impaired persons.  This installation was made possible by a project which we have previously had in the works per the request of a visually impaired user of this intersection."

Mathis explained in an email to Town officials that in response to the recent fatality at that intersection they are considering numerous options.

He outlined five options in detail including "Leading pedestrian intervals" stating, "This is a provision for when the pedestrian push button is activated, the pedestrian walk sign comes up some interval of time, typically 3 seconds or so, prior to the concurrent vehicular signal getting green.  This allows the pedestrians to go ahead and react and get established in the crosswalk prior to the vehicles getting green.  The idea is that by the pedestrians already being established in the crosswalk, the vehicle drivers will be more alert to the pedestrian presence."

Another option being considered is flashing yellow arrow left turn signals.

Mathis explained, "Flashing yellow arrow left turn signals for both directions for the left turns from Cape Fear Boulevard onto Lake Park Boulevard.  The current signal heads for Cape Fear Blvd display the green ball signal indication for the Cape Fear Blvd left turners (as well as the through and right turning movements). The flashing yellow arrow left turn signal head would be a separate signal head for the designated left turn lanes from Cape Fear Blvd onto Lake Park Blvd.  The flashing yellow arrow should better alert the Cape Fear Blvd left turner to be cautious of others for whom they should be yielding the right of way including pedestrians and other vehicles as appropriate."

Other options include modifying the existing crosswalk markings based on new standard practices and relocating some of the pedestrian push buttons which are currently located on the inside alignment of the crosswalks. He explained, "The proposal would be to relocate buttons to the outside alignment of the crosswalk as referenced to the center of the intersection.  This may help reduce sight obstruction concerns.  This would also be in keeping with having the buttons on the outside of the crosswalk if possible which is in keeping with preferential guidance."

Mathis explained those options and others are considerations at this time and, "We may be changing our plans in that regard.  Even so, those are the items that we think are likely to move forward in pursuit of a possible project to upgrade the intersection. 

I understand that the next turn in date for safety projects for the Regional Traffic Unit is in August 2019.  The Regional Traffic Unit... can supply better information about their plans and process in regard to pursuing a safety project for this location."

No date has been announced for a future meeting with Town officials as of press time on Tuesday June 4th.

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