YOUNGSVILLE -- Police Chief Greg Whitley highlighted a handful of recent wrecks that he says underscores the need for traffic-correcting devices along N.C. 96.
Already, the town has set up right-turn-only signs for traffic along Persimmon Street approaching N.C. 96.
And, at the end of the month, the town plans to install temporary barriers at the southern end of Nassau Street, closing it as a cut-through road to N.C. 96.
During the Youngsville Board of Commissioners' Feb. 13 meeting, Whitley pointed out two wrecks in January and a third one in February that the right-turn only signs and road closure are designed to prevent.
On Jan. 16, he said, a vehicle was stopped on Main Street to make a turn onto Nassau, presumably to use it as a cut to get to N.C. 96. That vehicle was hit in the rear, sending one person to the hospital.
On. Jan. 31, he said, a vehicle pulling heavy equipment attempted to cross Main Street to continue onto Nassau Street down to N.C. 96. That vehicle, Whitley said, didn't stop at the stop sign and caused a three-vehicle wreck that sent two people to the hospital.
And, in early February, a motorist was attempting to make a left turn from Persimmon Street onto N.C. 96 and pulled into the path of oncoming traffic. No injuries were reported, Whitley said, but it was a "significant" collision.
"I really think this highlights the importance of our previous votes [to close Nassau and erect right-turn-only signs]," Whitley said.
The right-turn-only signs have already gone up on Persimmon Street.
"... We actually have four signs as a warning as you approach [N.C. 96 from Persimmon] and another one on either side of N.C. 96 will be the specific directional right-turn only signs, so they should be pretty obvious.
"I think the areas [we've] got for placement are pretty sound and we shouldn't have any troubles with those."
The barricade at the southern end of S. Nassau Street is slated to be put in place at the end of the month.
"I rode around today to find a specific location for barricades," Whitley said during the Feb. 13 meeting. "I believe it would be best if we butted it up as close as possible to 96 there so you don't have folks who have been accustomed [to making that turn] try to make that turn and then have a traffic issue.
"It should be obvious," he said. "[The barricades] are bright orange and it'll be some signage associated with that thoroughfare now being closed. I don't anticipate any trouble."
The closure will cause a "minor" issue for the school system.
School system spokesperson Curtis White said the traffic changes should alter a few bus routes.
"Franklin County schools has been working with the town of Youngsville on this," Hayes said. "It is going to have some impact on bus routes, although it's going to be a minor impact; we're talking one or two bus routes, affecting maybe one, two or three students.
"It's possibly going to change where those kids are picked up and dropped off," he said. "We're still working through this issue. It's not something that changes overnight.
"It's going to be something that is adjusted to and we'll work with the parents and students on making sure these buses are running smoothly for them and that they're informed due to this road closure."
Aside from the traffic devices, police have taken another step to alleviate congestion in town and along N.C. 96.
At the intersection of Main Street and N.C. 96, officers have been directing traffic at peak congestion times.
Whitley said that would continue.
"Our intention is, in the meantime, until we can continue to work with DOT and get a protected [turning] arrow out there, the officers have been sitting in the intersection as they see that traffic back up. they're going to be out there, we'll continue to direct traffic," he said.
"It's one of those things; how long can we continue to extend that operation until we get the assistance we're looking for from DOT? I'm not certain.
"But, I can tell you for the foreseeable future, that is the directive," Whitley said. "Barring any significant inclement weather or anything that would keep them from being out there and doing that, that's our intention."
Pictured (Above): GO THIS WAY. Youngsville motorists are getting new direction now that police have erected right-turn only signs on each side of Persimmon Street as it approaches N.C. 96. S. Nassau Street will be closed to N.C. 96 traffic by the end of the month. (Times photo by Carey Johnson)