by: Brittney Johnson Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Channel 9’s cameras were rolling when a truck slammed onto its side on West Rocky River Road Monday morning.
Witnesses rushed from Newell Elementary School to pull the driver from the overturned cab.
The commotion blocked both sides of the road as parents started dropping off their kids for the first day of school at Newell's new location.
"Chaos," Samantha Payne said, describing the first day of school.
As medics checked the driver for injuries, the line of cars stretched out of sight.
"It was very hectic, knowing I had to sit here and wait in this long line," said parent Amanda Mackie.
But sitting gave some parents a chance to take a closer look at the road.
"For them to build a school right here on one of the worst curves is crazy, accidents happen on this curve all the time," Mackie added.
School officials told Channel 9 while they didn't anticipate the wreck they were aware that nearby construction would cause congestion near the school.
Superintendent Ann Clark said, "There were already traffic issues with signage, barrels and all sorts of things. I knew at the start of the day that was going to be a hot spot."
Payne avoided the traffic by walking her kids to school but stumbled upon another concern. There are no sidewalks.
"I'm afraid for my kids to walk along this edge here cause either you're in the mud or you're taking the chance of getting hit by a car," said Payne.
A wrecker came to remove the truck around 9:30 a.m. Monday.
Channel 9 checked with the city and learned there have been seven accidents on the same stretch of West Rocky River Road in the past five years.
According the Charlotte Department of Transportation, there is a city project under way that will improve Rocky River Road West near the new Newell Elementary School. The project is one part of the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure Program (NECI), intended to improve access to the new Blue Line Extension transit system. The plan will provide improvements over a distance of about ¾ mile, from North Tryon Street to the Toby Creek Greenway, extending well beyond the school site in both directions.
The finished project will include new curb and gutter, turn lanes, bike lanes, sidewalks, planting strips, and street trees. The project budget is $5.8 million. The project is in a very early design stage and there have been four public meetings where this was included as part of the agenda. Construction is anticipated to begin in late 2017 or early 2018.
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