By the end of the week Carlo Bernarte’s family will be able to use their living room again.
Workers have been installing a guardrail this week intended to keep cars from flying off North New Hope Road and landing in the family’s front yard. Since Bernarte bought his home on Fawn Glen Drive in 2004, six vehicles have landed in his yard and four people have died in crashes.
“I am really very happy and relieved,” Bernarte, 45, said Tuesday.
The decision to close city-maintained Fawn Glen Drive was announced at a community meeting by the state Department of Transportation in October. The closure blocks off an entrance to the Brookstone neighborhood, which sits at the end of a curve in state-maintained North New Hope Road about a half-mile south of Louisburg Road.
Workers have begun relocating utilities and installing curbs and a sidewalk before they put in the guardrail that will become a barrier between North New Hope and Bernarte’s home, said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott. The project is expected to cost about $100,000 and be finished by the end of the week, he said.
Closing the road cannot come soon enough for Bernarte, who has been working to find a solution to the problem since the second car struck his home in 2008.
“Crashes, you cannot avoid that,” he said. “But at least they cannot end up in our living room.”
Bernarte said the family’s living room and much of the first floor have been off limits since the last crash, in Aug. 2016, when a driver left the road. The vehicle plowed through a stone subdivision sign, throwing rocks and debris into the home that pierced siding and shattered windows. It was the second crash in a year’s time.
His three children are not allowed to have friends come over to their home, he said. And the family has tried to spend most weekends sleeping in a back bedroom or with relatives to minimize risk of being in the house if a car were to hit it.
Carl, Bernarte’s oldest son who is in seventh grade, said in the past that he had been kept up at night by the fear of having a car hit his home and said he was glad to see the barriers.
“I like it,” Carl, 12, said. “It looks cool, right now.”
At the DOT meeting in October, not all the neighbors were in favor of the street closure. Some worried that it would increase commute times, slow emergency response times and hurt property values.
Bernarte said that he attended a homeowner’s association meeting recently and heard that a few neighbors were unhappy, but he says the majority were in support of closing Fawn Glen.
On Tuesday, Brookstone resident Dalveion Mason, 28, passed by the construction while taking a walk through his neighborhood. He said he had heard that some people are unhappy with the closure, but said he was glad the problem is being addressed and that Bernarte’s home is being protected.
“This is a great thing for people to be fixing the highway,” he said. “He’s been going through hell.”