by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:
HARRISBURG - Harrisburg officials are fighting to get a traffic light installed at the intersection of Tom Query Road and Robinson Church Road. They told Channel 9 it's a safety issue.
The Department of Transportation even admitted that area needs one.
More than 17,000 drivers typically use the intersection every day.
Barbara Eatman is one of those drivers and said, "I cringe every time I come through here."
That number has only increased since last September, when a DOT road-widening project began.
Harrisburg Councilman Chad Baucom says the city has repeatedly asked DOT officials to install a traffic light.
Baucom explains, “Either direction you're going to have not a blind curve, but a blind hill. Depending on how aggressive you are making a left turn, that will determine your fate.”
State lawmakers have also asked for a traffic light at the intersection.
Channel 9 obtained a letter from the North Carolina DOT to Rep. Larry Pittman. That letter states, in part, "Given the traffic volumes and crash history at the intersection, we support your request."
The letter then states, “We will pursue a project at this location once a funding source can be identified.”
The Department of Transportation did agree to station three deputies at the intersection to make sure accidents do not happen.
The deputies have been there since September working two hours during the afternoon rush five days a week.
A DOT spokeswoman told Channel 9 they've hired them for 325 days at a cost of $71,175.
Channel 9 asked how much it would cost to install a traffic signal and turn lanes. They said the estimate was $400,000 for left and right turn lanes on Robinson Church Road, a right turn lane on Tom Query and a traffic signal. A DOT official said there is not funding for these improvements at this time, so they are exploring funding options with the town of Harrisburg.
Baucom said, “I think the best use of taxpayer money would be improving the intersection and short of that it's not a solution to a long-term problem.”
A DOT spokeswoman told Channel 9, the project is expected to last through April 2015.
If needed, the DOT will extend the deputies’ contracts.