Thursday, 20 December 2018 17:09

Ellerbe mayor demands action on curve; NCDOT acts

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Another wreck involving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 220 prompted Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry to demand a call to action for making a curve less dangerous. Another wreck involving a tractor-trailer on U.S. 220 prompted Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry to demand a call to action for making a curve less dangerous. Courtesy: Lee Berry

ELLERBE — One Richmond County elected official is asking residents to demand action on a problematic highway curve.

Ellerbe Mayor Lee Berry posted a photo on Facebook Thursday morning of yet another wreck on U.S. 220, a few miles north of Rockingham.

Berry, who says there have been more than 10 wrecks in that curve in the past six months, asked residents to send the photo to Gov. Roy Cooper and demand the curve be made less dangerous.

“Is it going to take someone to die in order to get this problem fixed?” he asked. “NCDOT fix your problem.”

In a comment further down in the thread, Berry added: “When I make a mistake as Mayor I am accountable for it. NCDOT needs to step up to the plate and fix this problem. If one of my family dies on that bridge they will have their hands full! Accountability.... we the people of Ellerbe have to travel it more than anyone.”

Several people commented on Berry’s photo saying the curve was dangerous. In past posts, it’s been referred to as “Dead Man’s Curve” and “the racetrack curve.”

Tucker Jessica Locklear commented on Berry’s Thursday thread saying she takes the curve at 45 mph and doesn’t have a problem.

“If people would read and follow speed limit signs it would reduce wrecks,” she said. “If (you) cant see around the curve then that should be a sign for (you) to slow down. Also, these truckers should know when they are loaded they should take extra caution going around a curve. SLOW DOWN!!!”

Andrew Barksdale, a spokesman with the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the curve will be in place for four years until another section of the bypass is opened.

“That design speed will work safely, even for tractor-trailers,” he said. “They are rolling over because they are driving way over the speed limit.”

Following Thursday’s wreck, NCDOT engineers installed changeable message board sign telling drivers to slow down when entering the curve on the new bridge, Barksdale said. Yellow chevron road signs will be added on Friday.

He added that engineers have made several sign changes for that curve since it opened:

  • Where there were two 65 mph speed limit signs, NCDOT removed those and replaced them with ‘Reduced Speed Ahead’ signs on both sides of the southbound lanes;
  • Where there were existing ‘Reduce Speed to 55 Ahead’ signs, engineers added bright reflective strips or posts (they are bright yellow in the daytime and reflect at night); 
  • Where there was one 55 speed limit sign (which was about 1,500 feet before the curve), engineers added the same kind of bright yellow reflective strips, and added that same sign to the other side of the road, and made them the largest signs NCDOT makes – about 5 feet tall;
  • Where there were left curve signs, engineers added the same bright yellow strips to the those existing signs;
  • Where there was a 45 mph advisory sign, engineers added the same bright yellow posts.

The exact number of wrecks at that location was unavailable Thursday, but troopers with the N.C. Highway Patrol say there have been several incidents involving tractor-trailers near Ellerbe in recent weeks.

A call to the Highway Patrol regarding information about Thursday’s wreck was not returned.