RALEIGH, N.C. – A longtime coffee shop owner near a dangerous intersection says the city should stop studying the issue and just do something about it.
David Benson's coffee shop sits just a few hundred feet north of the Five Points intersection, the namesake of the neighborhood in which it sits. It's the spot where Glenwood Avenue, Fairview Road, Glenn Avenue and West Whitaker Mill Road meet. Each section of road comes in at a slightly different angle.
Depending on which direction you're turning, you could end up making a nearly 180-degree turn around a triangular curb. The North Carolina Department of Transportation's figures show the intersection was the site of 248 crashes between May 1, 2017 and April 30 of this year, including one fatal crash.
Those numbers don't surprise Benson. He says he has witnessed many of those crashes himself.
Benson says for him, the biggest risk comes from drivers speeding south down Glenwood Avenue. On the evening of July 4, a teenage driver plowed through his outdoor dining furniture into an art gallery next door.
He says the damage is currently estimated at $20,000 and the driver's insurance won't pay for it. Not only is it hard for him as a small business owner to come up with that kind of money on short notice, he says it prevents him from hosting customers outside.
“If my revenue stream is diminished because there's an accident out there and all the chairs are destroyed, then what do I do? I have to work more, get rid of some of the labor I pay, and take their place,” he said.
Five Points lies in city council member David Knight's district. During budget negotiations earlier this year, Knight asked for and got $325,000 to fund a corridor study looking at traffic, amenities and infrastructure around the intersection. Knight says city staff will look at everything from traffic volume to pedestrian patterns.
“We can't piecemeal this thing. The police can't catch every speeder or distracted driver,” he said. “We need to look at this comprehensively.”
Benson says the study seems like a waste of time and money if the city already has crash data. He says city officials can start by doing something simple such as installing speed bumps. As for more permanent solutions, he says he would like to see a traffic circle installed.
“That would slow them down coming from the north, and it would certainly slow these people down if they knew about it,” he said.
Knight says the city has to do the study so it can take care of all of the area's problems at once. In addition, Glenwood Avenue is part of U.S. 70 and thus under the jurisdiction of NCDOT, not the city. Still, he says he, too would favor a traffic circle. Knight says he expects the study to take six to nine months.