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LIGHTNING EDITORIAL: Is this an 'unneeded' safety project?

An elderly driver stands beside her car after driving off Highland Lake Road around 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16. An elderly driver stands beside her car after driving off Highland Lake Road around 9 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16.

Last summer, a charter bus trying to make a right turn from Greenville Highway onto Highland Lake Road landed in the ditch.

Because of the inadequate turning radius for a vehicle that size, the bus got stuck, blocking traffic for a few hours.
In early 2018, a bicyclist was hurt in a hit-and-run crash that might have been avoided had there been a paved shoulder.
Last Monday night, a distraught 85-year-old driver stood helplessly beside her Hyundai, waiting for a state trooper to arrive to investigate and for a wrecker to pull her sedan out of the ditch. Had there been a shoulder on that part of Highland Lake Road, the driver may have been able to correct her travel direction and ease back into the travel lane. Instead, the road remains narrow and unforgiving and will remain so forever if the new majority on the Flat Rock Village Council gets its way.
As their first order of business, the newly sworn-in members of the council and newly elected Mayor Nick Weedman pushed through a motion to ask the NCDOT and French Broad MPO to drop the $2.7 million road improvement project. Council member Anne Coletta described the proposed action, which had not been publicly noticed in advance, nor offered up for public comment of any kind, as a resolution. Except there was no resolution and now the council has to scramble to draft one.
The resolution will presumably pass as well by the same 4-3 majority, and Coletta and her like-minded council majority will continue to fight to kill a simple transportation improvement project. Congestion, backups and crashes mean nothing, say Coletta, Weedman, Tom Carpenter and David Dethero, because the road operates at an acceptable level of service by NCDOT standards. Many of the 91 crashes in a 5-year period ending on Oct. 31, 2016, were outside the village boundaries, Coletta said, and thus don’t count.
Small comfort for the charter bus driver, the bicyclist who broke her leg or the 85-year-old driver whose slight overturn caused a startling fall into a deep ditch. All of those were in the village limits. Of course we can’t say that these things will continue to happen. Maybe the crashes will miraculously end. But we doubt it. They’ll continue because, we’re told, this is an unnecessary transportation improvement project.