After an inquiry from the chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, the mayor of Wrightsville Beach said it could be difficult to gain support for a speed limit lowering on Waynick Boulevard.
New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chairman Woody White sent an email to town and state officials this morning forwarding the concerns of a resident on Waynick Boulevard who believes the current 35 mph speed limit poses a safety risk, requesting a seasonal change to 25 mph. The woman sent the request to White, who then asked the North Carolina Department of Transportation to examine the request. White said he wasn’t pressing the issue and would let town officials decide if it was a problem that needed addressing.
However, Mayor Bill Blair said that the town would have to examine whether there is a safety issue with speeding on Waynick Boulevard, where parking lines the west side of the street with frequent pedestrian crossings.
In her email to White, the woman who owns a beach house on Waynick Boulevard referenced safety concerns with crossing the beach.
Blair said other residents may not want the slower speed limit, adding that he couldn’t recall a recent incident where a pedestrian has been struck on Waynick Boulevard. Blair said he recalled the June 2016 hit-and-run of a woman on a bicycle on Waynick Boulevard, but said that bicycle safety was a different problem from the pedestrian safety issue the woman raised in her email.
In her email, the woman said that people parking on the west side of Waynick Boulevard had to run to safely cross the road to reach the piers and beach, adding: “The elderly have a real struggle to cross Waynick.”
“Thousands of folks will be crossing this highway as beach goers with coolers, gear, and children. You will observe that you have to run for your life to cross Waynick. Many families will be going to their piers with the same gear, running to cross safely,” the woman wrote to White. “Come spend ten minutes at our beach house over this busy weekend and you will see the need for a lower speed limit.”
Blair said that the town has tried to address pedestrian crossing through crosswalks, including adding high-visibility crosswalks to the street. Many pedestrian safety issues are due to people being distracted with their phones, Blair added.
He also said that a definition of “seasonal” would be necessary, as Wrightsville Beach experiences significant traffic in the months between the summer seasonal as well.
In his email to NCDOT division engineer Karen Collette, White asked about the formal process for examining this request and whether it had been studied before. He said he didn’t know if it had support from the town.
“There are other coastal communities that lower limits during peak tourism months, in areas that do not adversely affect traffic flow, and Waynick, I believe, would meet similar criteria for doing so here,” White wrote.
Blair said that Waynick Boulevard is a state road and that a formal request from the town was needed.
Lumina News was unable to reach the woman and, in the spirit of protecting online civility and a citizen’s right to communicate with their representative, has decided not to publish her name unless she wants to speak publicly on her concerns.