Concerns brought before the town council may lead to a lower speed limit along New Bethel Church Road, a heavily utilized route near South Garner High School.
Sutton Springs resident Joseph Hayes told council members he was worried because the road, filled daily with young drivers, has a single, 55-mph speed limit sign, which he thinks is both obscure and too high a speed.
“We have mostly school kids – 16-, 17-year-old kids – driving their parents’ big SUVs going to school and coming from school, flying down New Bethel Church Road at a really high rate of speed,” Hayes said.
Hayes said he was particularly concerned about the slight curve on New Bethel Church Road, which he said makes the entrance to his neighborhood a dangerous junction. He cited a recent accident on the road, and said more than 500 new homes being developed in the area will further complicate the situation.
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“It could’ve been a major accident,” Hayes said. “I have never seen law enforcement on that corner. I’ve seen police officers drive New Bethel Church Road, but I’ve never seen someone sitting there running radar on that road.”
Councilman Gra Singleton, whose son attends South Garner High, said he understands Hayes’ concerns. The road, however, is maintained by the state.
Singleton said he’s counted anywhere from 77 to 115 cars while making the short New Bethel Church Road trek between Hebron Church Road and N.C. 50.
“You’re right – it’s a lot of traffic during school hours and a lot of kids,” Singleton said. “I haven’t noticed speed limit signs before. That’s a good point.”
Hayes said other roads in the area were posted 45 mph. Singleton said he had already been in contact with legislators about increasing markers to make the road more visible to drivers, and that he would add Hayes’ request to his own.
John Hodges, Garner’s assistant town manager of developmental services, said he thinks New Bethel Church Road is intended to have the lower speed limit – that the single 55-mph sign may exist by oversight.
Hodges said town staff searched for the sign and agreed it is obscurely positioned. The town contacted the N.C. Department of Transportation about lowering the speed limit to 45 mph and was awaiting a reply.
Hayes suggested that the town go a step further and ask for a 35-mph intersection sign near the entrance to Sutton Springs.