RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The Five Points intersection in Raleigh is a headache for people who live in the area. For years, neighbors there have kept track of wrecks they say happen too often.
Renewed interest comes after a driver plowed through the patio area of several businesses this week.
Finding a solution for the area is complicated. Glenwood Avenue is owned by the state while the streets feeding into it are owned by the city of Raleigh.
The latest wreck along that stretch of road has become another reminder for residents about how dangerous traffic can be here. A driver of a car lost control and hit a telephone pole, which snapped and fell, blocking the road. The car then veered off to the right and into an art gallery, police said. No one was hurt.
“There could have been 12, 15, 20 people killed,” Simon Griffiths, a long-time resident of the area. As a regular at The Third Place Coffee Shop. He said if he’d been sitting outside the coffee shop a few hours later on Sunday, he could have been dead.
“I’m very aware when I’m in Five Points of walking, watching oncoming traffic. I don’t ride my bicycle in the road nearly as much,” said Griffiths.
Sunday’s wrecks are all too familiar for neighbors. They’ve seen cars roll into yards, take out poles and speed past their neighborhoods recklessly for years.
“It’s been frustrating, just the lack of progress and we continue to have the accidents so nothing really has improved,” said Katie Jones, another longtime resident. She’s also changed her walking habits after seeing too many close calls.
Records from NCDOT show more than $1 million in property damage from wrecks in the last 4 years.
Almost a year ago, CBS 17 requested the number of crashes from NCDOT within a quarter-mile radius of the intersection. In a three-year period, NCDOT recorded 206 crashes with 62 injuries.
CBS 17 requested an updated report and is waiting to receive that data.
“I’m just concerned it is going to take someone getting hurt for them to do something about it,” said Katie. She and others in the neighborhood have voiced their concerns for years.
This week, Raleigh police officers were out with their radar guns catching speeders and reminding others to watch their speeds. A lack of signals for long stretches means drivers can pick up and maintain high speeds through large portions of the neighborhood.
“You can only catch so many speeders and so many of the distracted drivers. That would be a piecemeal way of continuing to go about it,” said Raleigh councilmember David Knight who represents the area.
He knows coming up with big solutions is complicated. It’s why he says he’s worked to put in more four-way stops and lowered speed limits within the side streets of the area.
He also pushed for a new comprehensive study to look a the big picture of what’s happening at the five-way intersection. City council approved a new budget in June. That budget included $325,000 for the Glenwood Avenue corridor study. A consulting company will look at crash analytics and possible solutions like a roundabout.
“None of the answers are quick. We’ve done a lot quicker on the side streets, the other streets coming into Five Points but Glenwood Avenue is a major concern,” he said.
That study won’t wrap up until next year. The city would then need any changes approved by NCDOT.
In the meantime, neighbors are holding their breath for the next wreck.
“It’s frustrating the lack of progress and we continue to have the accidents,” Jones said.