Widened Raleigh intersection may pose a new danger

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Widening has eased congestion, but a Raleigh resident says a new problem has surfaced.

It's a busy North Raleigh intersection that's seen a lot of change in the past year, and one driver says the changes have become a problem.

TK Miller's home is very close to the popular intersection of Leesville and Hickory Grove Church roads. He often drives through that busy intersection. But through the years, so much growth has come to that area that Leesville Road recently went through a major widening project.

Miller said now that the widening project has eased congestion, he has other concerns with the intersection of Leesville, Hickory Grove Church and Old Leesville Roads. He says vehicles traveling northbound on Old Leesville Road are not stopping at the right light and making a turn on red onto Leesville Road.

"The northbound traffic comes up, looks left thinking there is nothing coming and they are going to turn, not realizing there's two left hand turn lanes of traffic going to that intersection."

Miller mounted a dash camera on his SUV to show the problem.

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TK Miller says a widened intersection has eased congestion but caused other problems.

Miller has even captured accidents at the intersection on his dash camera.

An accident at the intersection.

An accident at the intersection.

Miller wants to see the intersection changed, so drivers going Northbound of Old Leesville Road can't make a turn on red. He wants a no-turn-on-red sign added. He says he thinks this would make the intersection safer. He adds, "We're adding crosswalks so we're going to throw pedestrians into this."

I reached out to the City of Raleigh who provided me with this statement:

Traffic Engineering staff made several field visits and installed a video camera to record the movement in question. What we found is not necessarily an issue with the intersection or the design, but more so with driver tendencies/behaviors. The Raleigh Police Department (RPD) conducted a separate informal investigation that resulted in the same conclusion.

In the Traffic Engineering investigation, they found the majority of vehicles approaching the intersection as the green phase is ending and transitioning through amber to all red, will stop and wait for the approaching/conflicting left turning vehicles to clear before proceeding to turn right on red. On occasional they found that a vehicle tried to run the red light indication and make a right turn before the approaching left turning vehicles gets fully across the intersection. This is an illegal maneuver and is an enforceable traffic violation Raleigh Police can issue a citation for.

When a right turn on red movement is restricted, especially for a high volume movement, delay increases dramatically and the overall intersection efficiency deteriorates. Increase delays can indirectly cause a safety concern as drivers' behaviors become more risky or erratic as they try to make up for perceived lost time. Therefore a right turn on red movement is typically only restricted when there are deficiencies or demonstrated safety concern. Some of the deficiencies could include limited sight distance, an acute turning angle or a high posted speed limit. The safety concerns are when a pattern forms from crash associated with that particular movement.

In an effort to be as objective as possible, we asked RPD to conduct an investigation as well. RPD sent an officer out several times to monitor. The officer did not notice anything of concern; nothing of concern was noted. Therefore based on what Traffic Engineering staff has seen, staff suggests letting the intersection operation as it currently is and continue to closely monitor. If a crash pattern emerges or the issue persist, staff will re-evaluate restricting the right turns on red.

As for Miller, he says he will also continue to monitor and keep capturing any problems on his dash camera.

"Somebody is going to get hurt, he said. "Some kid is going to get killed, and then everybody is going to want to do something."

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