Troubleshooter

Duke Hospital employees concerned over dangerous intersection

Monday, July 22, 2013

Some Duke Hospital employees are calling their walk to work "dangerous," a "death trap," and an "accident waiting to happen."

When they couldn't get anyone else to help make it safer, they turned to ABC11 Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

When I saw the crosswalk in question -- where pedestrians should always have the right of way -- I couldn't help but agree with them.

Cars whiz right on by -- way too fast according to our radar gun, and city speed detectors. It's not just the speed that's dangerous. It's the fact that drivers aren't slowing down, and stopping for those in the crosswalk at Trent Drive, Elba Street, and the off ramp for N.C. 147 in Durham.  It's next to the lot where employees of Duke Medicine park.

"That's the worst part of my job, because I'm afraid I'm going to get hit coming home, or going to work in the morning," said Deborah Lunsford.

"It's bad enough that you have to pay for parking, walk to work, come to work every day, and then have to worry about your life," said Lorraine Lunsford. "Am I going to make it from point A to point B so that I can function when I get to work?

These folks have seen all kinds of bad driving here.

"They make u-turns. They don't slow down. They don't yield to the pedestrians," said Lorraine Wright. "They don't care about the people on foot."

Another big problem is a blind spot. You think it's safe to cross, and then a speeding car comes out of nowhere. 

Our test subject waited for drivers to stop for her in the crosswalk, which is the law. When they don't, she waits for an opening, and tries to cross. However, she barely makes it.

"They're just flying. Coming in and coming out," said Lunsford. "They'll be beeping horns. They're trying to merge where they can't, just going really fast. They don't care about us. "

Lunsford wants speed bumps, a flashing pedestrian sign, or anything.

"We've reported it to Duke police but they said they couldn't do anything about it because it's not Duke property.  City of Durham -- I called them. They just didn't know what I was talking about, "said Lunsford."So I called the police station and they didn't know what I was talking about so I shot off an email to Diane Wilson."

We showed up with our radar gun, and not long after, police put up a speed sign.  Both show what walkers have been wailing about for months -- drivers going way over, some nearly double, the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour.

"What's going to happen eventually is something ugly is going to happen at this intersection," said Wright. "Whether it's an accident or somebody gets killed. I don't see anything else happening."

Duke and Durham police both directed us to the Department of Transportation, who told us they recently met with some of the walkers, and that they're "still reviewing this location for possible safety improvements, and the DOT will look at crash history and other factors to see what improvements might be beneficial."

It's not urgent enough for those who say this is an urgent situation.

"This is serious. This is very serious.  This is no joke any longer.  What's it going to take, someone getting killed for somebody, to get somebody's attention, and for somebody to do something about it," asked Wright. "Why does something, why does somebody have to die for somebody to recognize that it's a problem?"

DOT officials tell me they're still reviewing the intersection data, and point out there have been no pedestrian crashes there in more than four years.

The walkers we talked to fear that could change any day now.

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durham county, abc11 troubleshooter, troubleshooter, diane wilson
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