Safety concerns are being voiced by local residents and business owners following the placement of stoplights at both ends of the under-construction Plea-santview Bridge in Middlebourne. The lights, which moderate traffic flow across the currently one-lane bridge, have been there since last week.
According to Carla Watson, owner of the Sandbar & Drive-Thru located along Pleasant View Lane, the most dangerous aspect is the closeness of the lights to blind-spot turns. She reported hearing tires squeal throughout the day as unsuspecting drivers meet a halted traffic flow. She pointed out black tread marks caused by cars slamming on their brakes as well as a few locations where cars have driven off the road to avoid collisions.
While signs have been posted to warn drivers of the upcoming stoplight and construction hazards, Watson feels that confusion may be caused by conflicting speed limits, such as the recently erected 35 MPH sign which gives way to the old 40 MPH sign just before the turn. She expressed that the apparent return to the normal speed limit may cause drivers to prematurely assume that they have reached the end of the construction zone.
Traffic congestion occurs as drivers meet at the intersection of Route 18 and Pleasant View Lane. (Photo provided by Carla Watson)
She also stated that she has watched cars go through the light while it was yellow and then have to back up as oncoming traffic approached.
"I understand they have a bridge to put in, but if it's unsafe, somebody should take action" she said, suggesting that the lights be moved to the straight stretches of road just before the blind turns and another light be placed at the intersection of Pleasant View Lane and state Route 18. She also suggested the use of a larger sign to warn drivers of the possible stop. "There was no common sense used in any of this."
She said that the potential for accidents becomes even greater with the amount of non-local residents unfamiliar with the road, particularly when they are driving large trucks. Due to the closing of one path, those tanker trucks must use Pleasant View Lane to gain access to Sellers Road. That entrance and exit is to the side of the blind turn closest to the Sandbar & Drive-Thru.
"Families sit in these blind turns and are scared to death," she said.
As of yesterday, state workers have begun the process of widening the lane to accommodate the additional traffic. She cited this change as a positive note.
Watson said that she has contacted state road workers in charge of the traffic stop and they conveyed to her that the lights were supposed to be moved by Wednesday (today) at latest. However, she went on to question why the lights have remained in the same, potentially hazardous position.
"If they're rectifying the problem, why since last Wednesday have they allowed it to be like this, knowing it's unsafe?" she asked.
Representatives from the Kokosing Construction Company Inc., which has been contracted to work on the bridge, could not be reached for comment or referral to subcontractors. It is Watson's current understanding that the lights are being moved and a third light is being implemented at the intersection of Pleasant View Lane and state Route 18.