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The Daily Tar Heel

New Stoplight Aims to Improve Pedestrian Safety

The new stoplight is located at the intersection between Craige Parking Deck and Morrison Residence Hall. Department of Public Safety Director Derek Poarch said the stoplight was erected after the DPS observed the area and the Pedestrian Safety Committee made a request.

"The stoplight was put up because of requests we've had for about a year now," he said.

Poarch said the stoplight was not prompted by pedestrian accidents, and accidents are infrequent in that area of Manning Drive. "I can only recall one accident (in that area) and that was last year," he said. "It was a hit-and-run involving a pedestrian, and we made an arrest in that case."

Poarch said although the DPS received the request for a stoplight about a year ago, the N.C. Department of Transportation had to approve the light before it could be constructed. He said the transportation department gave its approval and designed the light in the past six months.

Poarch said the stoplight will serve two main purposes. First, the stoplight will increase safety for the large amount of pedestrian traffic from Craige Parking Deck, Craige Residence Hall and Morrison. He also said the light would slow down traffic in front of Chase Dining Hall, where many students cross the street.

Ray Magyar, a UNC transportation planner, said heavy traffic in the area necessitated action. "The large amount of traffic and pedestrian crossings in that area warranted a light," he said.

Magyar said the UNC Department of Transportation and Parking routinely investigates ways to improve and upgrade traffic and safety as a part of UNC's Development Plan, an eight-year plan for campus growth.

Jeff McCracken, deputy director of the DPS, said a stoplight was the best way to assist people. "The area is a major pedestrian throughway for the Craige (parking) deck and the S-11 parking lot, and this was a location where a light was needed."

Poarch said the light should be in a flashing mode within the next 10 days to two weeks, and it should be fully functional by Dec. 1.

McCracken said crosswalk lights that count down the number of seconds before the light turns red will be installed in addition to the stoplight.

Magyar said he thinks the new stoplight was a necessary addition and it will be extremely useful.

He said, "I think it's definitely going to be an aid for pedestrians crossing (Manning Drive), especially with the construction of the new residence halls."

The University Editor can be reached at udesk@unc.edu.

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