“Little Bridge”

Nags Head wants NCDOT’s help on unsafe crosswalk

The Nags Head Board of Commissioners has asked the N.C. Department of Transportation for a pedestrian-activated light at the crosswalk on the “Little Bridge,” a span used by fishing enthusiasts to cast a line or crab from the concrete walkways along the Nags Head-Manteo Causeway.

      Citing what they described as a defective crosswalk that NCDOT has failed to adequately address, the commissioners unanimously passed a resolution at their June 5 meeting requesting a traffic signal similar to the one on U.S. 158 that provides a pedestrian crossing between Jockey’s Ridge State Park and the shopping complex at milepost 12.5.

      “This board has said it, and said it, and said it again,” said Mayor Ben Cahoon at the meeting.

“We don’t want one of those situations where someone has to die before something gets fixed.”

      There have been two accidents involving a vehicle rear ending another one that stopped at the crosswalk on the bridge in recent weeks, according to Nags Head Police Chief Phil Webster. Webster told the Sentinel that since 2014, there have been 20 collisions at the bridge’s crosswalk.

      Two pedestrians have been struck in the crosswalk – one in July 2018 and the other in August 2014 – however there have been no fatalities.

'Little Bridge'

The Nags Head Commissioners say the 'Little Bridge' crosswalk is a tragedy waiting to happen.

      “A pedestrian crosswalk at that speed is an inherently unsafe situation,” Cahoon said in a later interview. The speed limit on the stretch of causeway is 55 miles per hour. “If a crosswalk is created, there is some expectation on the part of pedestrians that they can cross safely.”

      The resolution passed by commissioners noted that the population in Nags Head swells from 2,800 to 40,000 during the summer months and that NCDOT’s installation of signs with flashing lights at the crosswalk last year “has caused confusion among drivers and pedestrians and may have made the situation worse.”

      “Quite frankly, DOT needs a new system, because it just ain’t working,” Commissioner Renee Cahoon asserted during the meeting.

      Chief Webster acknowledged that NCDOT has made an effort to make improvements at the crosswalk, but added that the problem persists: “We are very appreciative of the effort DOT has made, but it doesn’t seem to be effective at this point.”

      Webster noted that the unintended consequence of the signage, coupled with the high speed limit, has been that drivers are unsure what to do when approaching the crosswalk. Making matters worse, he said, is the effect the morning sun can have on eastbound drivers.

      NCDOT spokesperson Tim Hass told the Sentinel that the department received the request from Nags Head on June 12 and will begin gathering data, as well as studying the feasibility of the request. He said pedestrian and traffic counts will need to be conducted following Federal Highway Administration guidelines. Officials, he added, “will have to get an average over a period of time…to get a good picture of what traffic is like.”

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(6) comments

siren

Unfortunately, this is all true what you say about the "Little Bridge". It isn't working and I experienced recently the confusion of the drivers. My husband and I for the first time decided to fish across the street on the channel side. Fishing was great. Crossing over to our vehicle afterwards was not. Although the right side traffic stopped at the flashing lights and observation of our bodies, the passing lane did not. If I hadn't noticed this, my husband and I would have been "clipped" and those whopper fish in our ice chest would have been food for the gulls. Maybe us too. I hope NCDOT continues to work on this issue; else, many of us may stay on the other side of the bridge to fish. Many thanks to all of you who are working to make us safe while enjoying the perks of fishing.

Al

When this was "the little bridge" with only two lanes it was safer for people to cross. The new 4 lane bridge should have never had the catwalk on the north side of the bridge unless there was a parking area on that side of the bridge. The current crossing light is confusing, I have been driving and the lights were flashing and no one was anywhere near the crosswalk. The crosswalk at Jockey's Ridge is better but people get impatient waiting for the walk sign to indicate it is safe to cross and dart into the highway anyway. The only safe thing for DOT to do is close or remove the north side catwalk since there is no property on that side of the highway to be used for a parking area. I cross this bridge a minimum of 10 times per week and it is only a matter of time before there will be a fatality there.

GT705

This is a good article with many informative facts. I fish on the Little Bridge dozens of times a year. What is very difficult is that there is currently a crosswalk in a long stretch of 4-lane road where the speed limit is very high. Despite the current signage and warning systems, most drivers are resistant to acknowledging and following the rules. I agree that the problem may not even exist if no catwalk were ever built on the north side, but I have caught my largest fish, by far, near the rocks on that side. I suggest using a traffic light there at the crosswalk.

Trocar

The speed limit coming off the Baum Bridge needs to be lowered to 20 MPH until you pass the Daniels bridge. This could help with avoiding rear end collisions and some better lighting on the cross walk at night couldn't hurt.

GT705

Trocar while I do not disagree with your suggestion, I am wary of its actual positive impact because the problem includes such a massive amount of cars. A scenario similar to yours seems to work well for drivers driving east through Columbia, NC, over the Scuppernong River, though that area has much less traffic volume compared to the Little Bridge area. More light at night for pedestrians and traffic is always beneficial.

BreynnBailey

I am thrilled to see this written!! Not only has there been accidents since the instilation of these signs but there has been multiple loads dumped. Dirt, debris and sand. The signs have not worked correctly or consistantly. The posted speed limit is 50. No one follows it. A decrease in speed probably is a good idea but not to 20mph. Travel to any coastal community and you will encounter a considerate speed decrease. (KDH should be 35mph during season) There aren't any studies that need done to fix a problem that everyone knows exists! This is a danger and a serious waist of time and money. All of the lights and crosswalks on the outer banks need to be evaluated. It is not very pedestrian and bike friendly out here...you can see it in the statistics. Makes me sad all that have died and been injured. Too bad Dare County doesn't see the seriousness in all this. 😔

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