Charleston wants more safety at deadly intersection
Charleston wants to make a deadly intersection safer for pedestrians.
After two pedestrians died of injuries from traffic accidents 14 months apart, the city sent a letter asking the state to significantly bolster safety warnings at the busy intersection for both pedestrians and motorists.
In the letter, the city pointed out that its study of the intersection of Coming Street and the Crosstown, officially named the Septima P. Clark Parkway, shows it is properly marked. Nevertheless, the city said it wants additional safety features "in an attempt to encourage pedestrians to obey the traffic control devices at the intersection, to use the crosswalks that are provided, and to emphasize the importance of obeying the traffic control devices at the intersection."
The city recommended that the state Department of Transportation, which has control over the Crosstown, consider installing several specific safety additions to the intersection including:
A sign cautioning pedestrians to cross the Crosstown only with the green walk signal.
A sign instructing pedestrians to cross the eight lanes of highway in two stages, first to the 70-foot-wide median, then wait there for the next green walk signal.
The city's request comes after The Post and Courier called attention to the intersection in a front-page story Feb. 9. Most pedestrians interviewed by the newspaper thought the walk light was too short for people to safely cross. Many said they ran in order to get across in the five seconds of green walk time and 15 seconds of flashing caution time. None had any idea they were supposed to cross in two stages because no signs in the intersection indicate that.
The city said it began to review the intersection's safety after the second of the two fatal accidents occurred on Jan. 13.
In the letter, Hernan Pena, director of the city's Department of Traffic and Transportation, pointed out that the pedestrians, both College of Charleston students, were killed after attempting to cross the highway when motorists had the right of way.
Lindsey Ranz, 21, the most recent victim, had been out running and darted into the highway in front of a motorist who was entering the intersection on a yellow light.
The other victim, Hannah-Rose Elledge, 21, ran across the highway on a red light with a friend. They were struck about 2:30 a.m. Nov. 17, 2012. Elledge died, and her friend was injured. Both had been at a party drinking.
In addition to the requested pedestrian caution signs, the city asked the state to install equipment to encourage pedestrians to watch only the pedestrian crossing signals and to place signs ahead of the intersection cautioning motorists that they are approaching a pedestrian crossing.
Lynnette Ranz, mother of Lindsey Ranz, has been waging an online petition campaign calling for safety improvements at the intersection.
"It's a start, and I'm appreciative of that. It's a good start," Ranz said Wednesday. Still, she said, she thinks traffic speeds by too fast and many motorists run the red light.
The city's study found that during one, 30-minute test period, traffic averaged 35.52 mph on the 35 mph highway section.
Robert Clark, district engineering director for the Transportation Department, said his office is talking a look at the request and the intersection and should complete that review in about two weeks.
Reach Doug Pardue at 937-5558.