What’s good for the geese: City resident seeks crossing signs

Melonie McLaurin | Daily Journal Lisa England stands looking out over the geese and pond at Richmond County Memorial Park and Mausoleum. They flock her her when she visits to pay respects to her deceased relatives and about once a day, she says, they make a dangerous journey across the four lanes of traffic on adjacent East Broad Avenue. England wants signs placed to warn people of the geese crossing area.

ROCKINGHAM — Lisa England wants “Geese Crossing” signs placed along East Broad Avenue near Richmond County Memorial Park and Mausoleum where large numbers of geese and a few ducks live around the pond on the property.

City officials referred her inquiry to N.C. Department of Transportation officials, who are reviewing the request.

“I just talked to Mr. (Rockingham Mayor Steve) Morris about it,” England said Friday. “He told me that would have to be handled by the DOT, so that’s who I contacted.”

In a message dated May 20, Darlene Johnson of the NCDOT’s Clemmer Road office emailed Highway Division 8 Traffic Engineer David Willett about England’s concerns.

“Ms. Lisa England came by our office today,” Johnson wrote. “She is a resident in Rockingham and is very concerned with the safety of grown and baby geese. They are crossing U.S. 74 at the Richmond Memorial Park (Cemetery). She asked if ‘Geese Crossing’ sign/s could be put up there. She has also contacted Mr. Helms with the city of Rockingham, but was advised it would be a DOT decision. She’s coming back next week to see if we an answer for her. What can be done here?”

The Mr. Helms was actually Morris, who owns Helms Jewelers in downtown Rockingham.

Willett emailed Johnson back.

“She spoke with Nick (Fields) last week and was told we do not sign for this,” Willett wrote.

England said she never spoke with anyone at DOT except for Johnson.

In a Friday afternoon phone call, Willett explained that signs are not typically placed to caution motorists about animals as small as geese.

“Typically the only crossing signs are for horses on bridle trails and for cattle,” Willett said. “We also have deer crossing signs in areas where we have a crash history.”

Willett said that to his knowledge, there is no set number of encounters with deer that is used to determine where deer-crossing signs are placed, but they take a five-year history into consideration when making those decisions.

NCDOT Resident Engineer Chuck Dumas provided similar information.

“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.”

Dumas said he would make a few calls and see what he could find out about signs pertaining to geese. When he called back, he said that signs posted on business property within city limits might be an option but would be subject to city ordinances.

“I just don’t want to see any of them get run over out there,” England said. “Look how many there are here. When they cross it’s like a parade.”

England said anyone interested in joining her quest to have signs placed can contact her at 910-334-0378.

Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.