It’s been a few years in the making, but Richmond Senior High School finally has a stop light outside the main entrance on U.S. Highway 1.
“When I was chairman of the school board, they were widening the road and we were concerned for the safety of the students,” said State Rep. Ken Goodman. “I put in a request to the North Carolina Department of Transportation for a stop light. They came and did a study and concluded that there was not enough traffic for a stop light and they rejected the request.”
That was in 2010. Goodman said that when he decided to run for the North Carolina House of Representatives that he promised the Board of Education that, if elected, he would get a stop light set up outside the high school.
Once elected, Goodman contacted the North Carolina Department of Transportation liaison in the General Assembly and put in another request for the stop light.
“They denied my request,” said Goodman. “I appealed their decision.”
Goodman was successful in his appeal, and after calling the NCDOT “every 30 days” for two years, the stop lights now stand at the main entrance of the school.
“I feel good that I did accomplish that. It’s a very dangerous intersection and regardless of the traffic, we don’t want any young person killed. I don’t know the cost of the project, but compare the cost of the light to the cost of the life of a young person,” said Goodman.
Drivers who are not used to stopping at the light will need to use caution, and law enforcement has been helping direct traffic and kept a presence there for several days to help people adjust to the light.
“We’ve received a few complaints about people running the red light,” said Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly. “I don’t think it’s students; I think it’s other motorists. In a few weeks it will settle down.”
“We know they are not doing it on purpose,” said Richmond County Sheriff James Clemmons Jr. “The reason we’re putting a deputy up there is to monitor and help people get used to the light. It’s just a matter of seeing the deputy. It’s a format of awareness. Even students have to get used to it. We know the light is going to be advantageous to us, not only during school traffic but also for Friday night games. It’s a great opportunity for safety. Years ago a deputy was hit at that intersection. He was OK. It’s been needed there for a long time.”
So far, law enforcement officers have yet to ticket anybody for running the red light.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at email@example.com.