2nd petition calls for changes to 'dangerous' intersection at Cary's Panther Creek High School

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- One year after Panther Creek High School administrators, Cary police officers, and North Carolina Department of Transportation engineers met to discuss potential changes to improve safety at a busy intersection at the school, students and parents are again calling for a permanent change.

ABC11 first reported on the traffic issues along McCrimmon Parkway at the Panther Creek student entrance in October 2018, after the Panther Creek community launched a petition complaining about the intersection, deeming it "dangerous."

The school day starts at 7:25 a.m. and with all 450 student parking spots sold out for the 2019-2020 school year, traffic tends to back up in the left turn lane on McCrimmon Parkway.

The issue, students and parents said, is inexperienced drivers making risky judgment calls from that left turn lane, darting across oncoming traffic to enter the student lot. Meantime, some drivers coming the opposite direction choose to stop in the road to allow drivers to make the left turn, while others continue on.

"I started the petition one morning after a close call I had with someone making a left turn," said Meredith Zinger, a senior at Panther Creek High School who started a second petition at the start of the 2019-2020 school year.

Though an officer was temporarily placed at the intersection following ABC11's report last school year, one was no longer present when classes started back this fall.

"The question that I am raising in 2019 is why do we not deserve this safety?" Zinger wrote in her online petition that has garnered more than 800 signatures.

Cary Police said there had only been one accident at the intersection so far this school year, involving two adult drivers after school hours.

However, following a request from ABC11 and taking note of Zinger's petition complaining of numerous "close calls," Capt. John Szymeczek of the Cary Police Department, said an officer, when available, will be stationed at the intersection in the mornings.

"We have created a computerized "call for service" for an officer to be dispatched to this location on school mornings to direct traffic as necessary," Capt. Szymeczek wrote in an email to ABC11. "This call will be prioritized with any other calls that may occur during this time, and our normal prioritization protocols will remain in effect."

A spokesperson for the Wake County Public School System said the district and administrators cannot make decisions regarding public streets, provide traffic officers, or place cones on the street to redirect traffic.

McCrimmon Parkway is a state-maintained road. As far as adding a traffic light, stop signs, or other infrastructure altering the intersection, those decisions would be made by the NCDOT.

"We're always willing to work with our partners in the community, like the Town of Cary and the school," said Marty Homan, NCDOT spokesperson. "As traffic conditions change and development occurs, we could take a look at it (via a study) to see if there is anything we can do to improve safety if that is something they want."
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