State transportation officials say they aren’t ready to make changes yet on East Independence Boulevard after the second multivehicle crash in two days near a Walmart store.
On Wednesday, a vehicle pulling out of a side street onto inbound Independence Boulevard was involved in a collision. No serious injuries were reported.
A wreck with injuries happened Tuesday morning, when a car pulling from the Walmart store onto outbound Independence collided with another car. The first vehicle overturned, and two people were injured. Both victims are expected to survive, according to news reports..
Motorists who use Independence regularly describe near-crashes, especially involving motorists who exit from Walmart onto outbound Independence. The problem is worsened when vehicles leaving the store try to cross four lanes of traffic on outbound Independence Boulevard so they can get on the ramp to Albemarle Road.
“That is dangerous,” said Jen Thompson, of the N.C. Department of Transportation. “That area was designed as a right-in, right-out access.”
That means, she says, motorists leaving the store are supposed to get into the right lane of outbound Independence Boulevard. The exit from the store was not designed for motorists who want to get on Albemarle Road.
Incorrect exit by drivers
Access to Albemarle Road is supposed to be from Pierson Drive, reached from the store’s parking lot. Pierson Drive goes under Independence Boulevard and crosses Albemarle Road a short distance from the Independence-Albemarle interchange.
“It might take a little longer, but it’s safer,” Thompson said.
However, as several Observer readers noted since this story was first published online Wednesday afternoon, only right turns are permitted from Pierson Drive at Albemarle Road. So motorists who want to go outbound on Albemarle Road would have to go outbound on Independence Boulevard, make a U-turn at Farmingdale Drive, then come back to Sharon Amity Road, make a right, and take that road to Albemarle.
Thompson said Wal-Mart Inc. and government officials went through a permit and study process before the access roads were built. But, she added, if the area proves to be unsafe, state transportation officials would consider making changes, such as lowering the speed limit on Independence Boulevard.
“We’re not at that point yet,” Thompson says.