ROCKINGHAM — When Lisa England told her story of efforts to protect the geese that cross East Broad Avenue between Richmond Memorial Park and Bojangles’, she didn’t expect the numerous responses she received from people sharing her concerns.
Last week, England asked Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris if there was some way the city could place goose-crossing signs along that stretch of road. Her initial inquiry was referred to the N.C. Department of Transportation.
NCDOT Resident Engineer Chuck Dumas said it was his first experience with a resident seeking crossing signs for our feathered friends.
“It’s interesting, this request for a crossing for geese,” Dumas said. “I don’t remember hearing of one of those before. To my knowledge we have not signed for anything of that nature. Our guidance comes from the Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices and it only refers to larger animals that could do serious damage to motorists.”
After researching the matter, Dumas said the NCDOT does not put up signs for small animal crossing areas.
“I can’t believe how many people have called me and commented on Facebook,” England said. “Men, women. It’s been more than 20 people. It’s something a lot of people care about.”
Gail Gallimore of Ellerbe saw the article in Saturday’s Daily Journal. She had recently attended a funeral in Charlotte and remembered seeing a goose-crossing sign on Albemarle Road.
“I commented to my daughter when we saw the sign I’ve never seen a Goose Crossing sign before,” Gallimore said. “Right before we got to Wilson Funeral Home I saw a goose walking around there so I told him ‘You’re living dangerously. It was a big, yellow sign just like the ones the DOT put out, but I suppose it could be the city, too.”
A phone call to the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County’s zoning offices to inquire about such signs within the city limits was not returned in time for this story.
She said the only thing she thinks could be done other than signs would be underground passage.
“You know those big pipes they use for drainage,” Gallimore said. “You could maybe put one of those under the road and a fence somehow that would train them to cross through the tunnel underneath.”
Gallimore said seeing that sign in the Queen City was her first such experience.
“I was just shocked,” Gallimore said. “There was that sign and people were driving and then everyone began to slow down. There was a mother goose with all these little baby geese waddling behind her in a line and everyone just politely came to a complete stop and let them pass.”
Thelma Ransom said she has seen first-hand what happens when geese try crossing four lanes of highway.
“Most of the time it’s early morning or late in the afternoon,” Ransom said. “I used to say I wished to God they would put a geese crossing there. I love animals. All animals. I used to have some ducks and had about 20 of them but something kept getting them and they got down to only two. That was years ago. But I mean, I wish something could be done.”
England was in Hamlet Monday meeting with a group of people who contacted her about the geese who cross the highway near Hamlet City Lake and also cross Boyd Lake Road frequently.
City of Hamlet zoning coordinator Gail Strickland said there have been some concerns about the geese in that area in the past, but she was unaware of any recent problems.
“I know that right along Highway 74 is DOT right-of-way,” Strickland said. “But that would not apply to Boyd Lake Road. I will have to check our ordinances and either I or the city manager will call and let you know what we find out.”
England said she is just as concerned about the geese in Hamlet as those in Rockingham and hopes something can be done to protect them — and drivers — from the hazard caused by their crossings.
“I do plan to try and organize, hear from other people,” England said. “Like I said, I was very surprised when so many people called me about this. We’re going to get together at some point and find out what, if anything, we can do. If Charlotte has those signs then at least we know they exist. It’s finding out who could set them out that’s the hard part.”
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.