Remember when “Life in 2020” seemed like a science fiction title? Are some of you forward thinkers now worried about Y3K? Perhaps there are more immediate concerns to worry about.
One worry we do have now is traffic, both inside Fearrington Village and along the developing 15-501 corridor. The FHA does not control most of the roads within the village, not to mention roads outside the village, so we have no direct way to affect what happens. Traffic in the village and along that corridor is just going to get heavier. Nevertheless, the FHA is working with the Department of Transportation (NCDOT) and other agencies to make things as safe as possible. We have a voice to persuade those organizations to listen to us, to address our concerns, and give answers to our questions—although the answers may not always be what we want or in the time frame we want.
Recently there was a meeting at Galloway Ridge about traffic along 15-501. It was organized by one of our talented residents, Lynda Lucas, who also talked me into moderating the event. Although most people attending were from Fearrington Village, there were also people from Briar Chapel and other areas. Evidence of the voice and the influence we can have was demonstrated by our having five senior people from DOT together with representatives of the sheriff’s office and the state police attend, make presentations, and answer questions. There would have been someone from the county commissioners office had illness not prevented her from coming. She does plan to stay informed.
I have worked with NCDOT for a few years now, and Warren Ort, our Director of Health, Safety and Security, continues that work. We were not surprised that NCDOT did not come with short term solutions. Their emphasis is primarily on keeping traffic moving along 15-501, and they tend to look five to ten years ahead. The sheriff’s office and state police in this area are both significantly understaffed, so there are limits to their ability to control traffic. They all listen to our concerns, and we will continue to use our collective voice to seek solutions. An example is working to find ways to make the intersection of Weathersfield and 15-501 safer. There is no easy solution. Our residents have different points of view, and NCDOT is barraged with complaints about the lights that already exist along 15-501.
Within the village, the challenge is persuading “us to listen to us” about traffic in our own community. People exceed the speed limit sometimes and roll through stop signs. Yet, overall, Fearrington is a safe place to drive. Most drivers watch out for people walking or riding bicycles and pay attention on the dangerous streets around Jenny’s Park (Camden Park). Safety locally depends on us all being aware of our own responsibility for safety.
As we work to address the issues, we will keep you all informed and continue to seek your thoughts.
-- Carl Angel
P.S. The Chatham News and Record (January 10, 2020) published a good story on the 15-501 meeting. I thought a link to that story would give weight to the point that DOT pays attention to Fearrington concerns.