Raleigh residents look for changes at intersection that’s seen dozens of collisions


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A heavily used intersection in Raleigh that’s seen dozens of accidents has neighborhood residents reaching out to CBS 17 for help.

There is debris from a recent wreck scattered in the gutters at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South State Street.

Residents say it’s is an indicator of just how bad this intersection is and it’s not just the intersection.

People who live in the area say South State Street is a dangerous speedway too.

Frustrated residents say the intersection that’s seen more than its share of crashes, with accidents happening weekly they say.

“In the last three or four years, this intersection has gotten worse,” said resident Scott Braswell, whose lived in neighborhood nine years.

Residents say accidents are so frequent, they’re afraid to walk near the intersection or use the crosswalk.

“I never come up this way because you never know,” said Braswell.

Resident John Jay adds, “We’re just too afraid to cross the intersection with the amount of wrecks we’ve seen here.”

He says cars involved in accidents end up on front lawns and sidewalks.

He says the accidents keep happening despite the fact there are traffic lights at the intersection.

“None of them (the traffic lights) have turn signals and that creates confusion,” he says.

After residents complained, the North Carolina Department of Transportation did do a study of the intersection which was completed in 2017.

Residents wondered why nothing has been done since then.

Consumer investigator Steve Sbraccia found out things were taking place – it was just behind the scenes.

Sbraccia learned NCDOT is in the process of changing those traffic lights to create turn signals.

They’re already in the design phase,” said NCDOT’s Steve Abbott. “The design is pretty quick, and then it’ll go to contract.”

Abbot anticipates the project will be in the hands of a contractor this summer.

“We certainly should have something in place this year.”

The other issue residents have is with the City of Raleigh.

Neighbors say drivers speed down South State Street well above the 25 mile an hour limit.

“We have a lot of little kids that live in the neighborhood,” said Heather Bradley. “I have 2 kids myself. We are very concerned.”

A string of emails between residents and the City hasn’t led to any permanent solution.

At one point, residents say police made the road a speed enforcement zone, but Jay says it once the police stopped giving out tickets, the speeding resumed. 

Residents have asked for speed bumps or other traffic calming measures.

“I know we’re on the list to restructure this road to make it safer,” said Bradley. “It’s been several years and we are number 54 on the list.”

CBS 17 wanted to know where the traffic calming measures stand and Sbraccia has been in touch with the City looking for answers.

City spokeswoman Julia Milstead said calming projects are divided into two groups – major projects and minor projects.

“The 1100 block of S. State Street is currently ranked 44th on the major project list, which is pretty far down on that list.  If residents feel conditions have changed, staff would be happy to re-evaluate,” Milstead said. 

She also says “The City cannot ‘promise’ anyone any sort of traffic calming measures.”

She explains the process this way:

A street has to be evaluated, score high enough, and then residents have to be balloted to demonstrate community support for the street calming project. 

Minor projects are completed on streets that are narrower than 31 feet usually by installing speed humps.

Streets wider than 31 are evaluated for major projects (as part of the Neighborhood Streetscape Program) and usually include some types of diverters like planted medians, traffic circles, and/or extensions of the curb line.  

State Street has several sections that have been evaluated for traffic calming in the recent past.

Below are the sections, rankings and 85th percentile speeds.

N State St – North: Oakwood Ave to Glascock St  Major ranking: 2  85 percent: 38.71 mph on a 35 mph posted SL

N State St – South: E Jones St to Oakwood Ave    Minor ranking: 21   85 percentt: 24.72 mph on a 35 mph posted SL

S State St – Bragg St to MLK Blvd  Major ranking: 44   85 percent: 34.2 mph on a 25 posted SL

S State St – Middle: MLK Blvd to East Lenoir St  Minor ranking: 8   85 percent: 31.26 mph on a 25 mph posted SL

The northern section of State Street is wider and stretches from Oakwood to Glascock Street. It is currently ranked No. 2 on our major project list. 

Unless another street scores higher, there is a high likelihood resident on this section will get a chance to vote on the project in the next project cycle at the end of 2019/beginning of 2020.  

The same is true for the S. State Street “middle” section, which is fairly high on the minor project list.

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