WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – New Hanover County commissioners’ objections to a reduced speed limit proposal for a section of River Road went unheard at a meeting Monday.
The Board of Commissioners’ agenda included a presentation on a reduction of the speed limit on part of River Road from 55 mph to 45 mph by N.C. Department of Transport division 3 traffic engineer, Jessi Leonard.
The presentation was not well-received by the commissioner chair Julia Olson-Boseman, whose daily commute includes River Road.
“I’m very, very much opposed to it… extremely opposed to it,” said Boseman. “The last thing you need to do is slow down traffic going in and out of Pleasure Island.”
However, the DOT was not seeking permission from the commissioners; it was merely presenting the proposal for information and comment.
“If we’re not inside a municipality, there’s not a requirement to secure a certificate to go ahead,” said Leonard.
This, coupled with the fact that the engineer didn’t have statistics to support the proposal, drew criticism from commissioner Barfield.
“The DOT will do what the DOT wants to do,” said Barfield. “And, you come to us and you ignore what we say.”
Barfield and commissioner Deb Hayes also expressed concern that the proposal had not been submitted to the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization for consideration.
Expressing frustration, Boseman suggested the DOT build a separate bike path.
“We want to keep cyclists safe,” said Boseman. “I feel we can do things better… I think we would like to find an alternative solution with us all working together instead of y’all just coming down here and telling us,’We’re gonna do this to y’all…too bad,’ instead of us looking for a solution which we would all like to see — a separate path down River Road that all our citizens can enjoy.”
The section under consideration runs from just south of Sanders Road to Snow’s Cut Bridge.
The DOT proposal was in response to a request from a citizen and repeated requests from the Cape Fear Cyclists group.
After examining traffic speeds, bike use, and roadway conditions, the DOT determined the need for a reduction in the speed limit to ensure bicyclist safety.
WECT requested the detailed proposal (below) from the DOT, which provides details of the findings of the review.
The data includes the deaths of two cyclists, a father and son, who were killed by a drunk driver in April 2011.
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