Published Somedays

NC DOT and New Hanover County insanity

(updated: Jan 31, 2011)

Thought I'd share this with you. Last week NC DOT put up over 30 signs near Ogden Elementary on Middle Sound Loop. I don't have much information at this point - who authorized it, where the money came from, why all of a sudden now, etc. I'll post updates as I find out.

Not only do the signs make the neighborhood ugly and probably confuse a lot of people coming into the round-a-bout with sign overstimulation, but it is a colossal waste of taxpayer money.

I was laughing when I drove by the first time because it was preposterous just how many signs they put up. I counted 30. Ed counted 32.

The reason many folks are pissed about this is because of the huge effort that Getting Connected undertook to try to get a bike path and sidewalks put in. After more than a year of gathering signatures and working with New Hanover county, the N.C. Department of Transportation earmarked $200,000 to connect bike paths in the vicinity. However, the reason the pledged money hasn’t been spent is due to excessive redtape and the lack of an active DOT Bicycle and Pedestrian coodinator at the local level.

So instead of sidewalks, DOT puts up a murder of signs. How is it they can just do something like this? Did this get approval from the County Commissioners? Do they even need to? If they can do this, they can just as easily put in something useful like sidewalks. How is it DOT controls all the roads in the state, to the point where they can just dictate what happens at the local level?

If they had put sidewalks and crosswalks in, with, you know, those flashing lights that say "School Zone" that nearly every school in the country has, something we've been doing for 50 years, none of those signs would be necessary.

When you think about it, if sidewalks and crosswalks were put in, the kids who live across the street wouldn't have to take the bus and go all over the entire neighborhood just to cross the road, nor would parents need to essentially drive from one side of the street to the other just to drop off their kids. That would equal less cars and a safer environment - no signs necessary. I mean, that's how you make it safer.

But the message the county gave Getting Connected when challenged to build sidewalks: It's unsafe to walk, take the bus.

Safe Routes to School? Only if you're in a three ton SUV.

NC DOT does not want you to walk or ride a bike because they don't get any revenue from people not driving. So they have a big incentive to keep people in cars. Then they can justify more roads which means more cars and more revenue and more roads, ad nauseam.

Drive by it, because it looks like the people who decided to do this are batshit crazy. Maybe somebody had a temper tantrum over parents dropping their kids off. Somehow this gets results, yet complaining about the lack of sidewalks at a school gets nowhere.

And by the way, after two years of effort by Getting Connected, they got two Share the Road signs put up on a side street.


If you build it they will come.

Filed Under: General Entries > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. Sue said...

Batshit crazy is right!

Jan 30, 2011 @ 9:21 PM

2. Dave said...

When I dropped my kids off this morning no one was paying any heed to the signs. This should be fun to see how they enforce their madness.

Jan 31, 2011 @ 8:50 AM

3. B said...

Get the news invloved...SEE IT, SNAP IT, SEND IT. TV6 loved this stuff!

Jan 31, 2011 @ 1:33 PM

4. peter said...

nora and i saw the sign by trask middle school for the new park that was built where the old model aircraft flying field was. so we drove on back to have a new ball fields, brick buildings including restrooms, and a nice pavilion. nobody there.
bike trails, bike paths, bike lanes are the redheaded stepchild of new hangover county.....maybe the next step is for the county commissioners to build a bike out of tinkertoys and take it for a spin....

Jan 31, 2011 @ 3:27 PM

5. Bryan W. said...

Peter, the parking lot was full at BC on Sunday. There was a line to get in the Porta-Jon! Go figure

Jan 31, 2011 @ 7:28 PM

6. BJ said...

While I am all for sidewalks and bike paths, I am also very much against parking on the side of the road to load or unload the kids. Why are these signs necessary? Because parents do not pay any attention to the kids as they run in to and across the roads. I and others in our neighborhood have almost run over unsupervised kids running into the road without looking or any concern for traffic in the road. I know that the school has asked parents not to park and load and unload their kids on the side of the road, but until the adults ensure the kids safety, the local and state governments must unfortunately do it for them. Unsightly? YES, but definitely needed to protect the kids.

Feb 1, 2011 @ 1:00 PM

7. ann evanko said...

love the term batshit crazy! could not have been said any better! I say we should all ignore the signs and park and drop there anyway and see what happens. what a waste of money. sidewalks would have been a better idea! thankyou sir bike alot for getting something started, i just really couldnt believe my eyes when i drove by this sunday am and saw the 10 bizillion signs!

Feb 1, 2011 @ 1:21 PM

8. tom said...

bike paths would be nice as would be sidewalks. Perhaps a bigger question. At what point did parents figure they had to drive their kids to school anyway? I'm 60 and I took the bus or walked to school. My kids are 30 and they took the bus. Wake your kids up, give them breakfast at the table, and send them to get the bus. ps I also ride the loop a few times a week and would at least like to see "share the road signs"

Feb 1, 2011 @ 4:18 PM

9. Mike said...

The same signage has been put along CH Road in front of Wrightsboro Elem. Tons of them. Watch out while walking/running/cycling through there, those things are a hazard!

Feb 2, 2011 @ 2:53 PM

10. SBA said...

Since this is from a public official, it is public information, and I am posting here:

"On Feb 3, 2011, at 2:58 PM, "Pope, Allen" wrote:

First of all, thanks for the response of the community in letting us know how you want your community to look. I will note that the Department and I personally have been working on this intersection since before 2000. From what was appropriate for the intersection, parents parking on the shoulder for student drop off, sewer installation, widening of the roadway, bike lanes, sidewalks/multi-use paths, and the school redevelopment. Therefore, this is not the first time I have dealt with this intersection or your community.

I also recognize that majority of the emails have come from supporters of the ‘Getting Connected’ organization. The Department has work with this group on several occasions. Unfortunately, the group is wanting pedestrian and bicycle paths which are municipality responsibilities. Since this area is in an unincorporated area, there is no agency responsible for funding or maintaining those facilities. As to the addition of wide paved shoulder for bike lanes, the Department did accomplish widening a portion of Middlesound Loop Road during the last resurfacing until available funds were depleted. If a funding source is identified, the remainder can be widened to accommodate this request. The Department also worked with this group to modify the roundabout to accommodate pedestrian crossing, if and when sidewalk/multi-use paths are installed.

Now back to the issue of the ‘No Parking’ signs. The Department is responsible for providing a facility that is safe for the traveling public. This problem of shoulder drop-offs was even a problem with the old school. Thus, the Department worked with the school system prior to the redevelopment to design an adequate drop-off/pick-up storage area on its campus. Drop-off parking on shoulders of the roadway are not acceptable and are very unsafe for the motoring public and those exiting shoulder parked vehicles. The Department received several complaints concerning the students being dropped off on the shoulder and then crossing traffic.. There have been several near misses noted to our staff. That is the reason for the no parking ordinance and the sign installation.

The Division has utilized this same method of ‘No Parking’ signs at other school sites with success. Listening to the community, my staff has reevaluated the number of signs that were installed and the number of signs has been reduced. However, it is our judgment that the remaining signs should stay in place until the need for the no parking ordinance is no longer needed.

As to the statements that it was frivolous waste of funds and time, I disagree. If it prevents a fatality of a student—it is well worth the effort. I have also asked that our Division Traffic Engineer meet with the school system to look at the current student drop-off/pick-up storage and procedures to determine if there have been changes to the original layout or changes in capacity at the school. It is the school system’s responsibility to accommodate these needs on the school grounds not on the roadway’s shoulders. We will work with the school system to determine how this can be accomplished.

I also wish to thank those that responded positively to the installation of the ‘No Parking’ signs. Finally, I wish to again thank you for taking your time to express your concerns. I truly hope that in the near future that the need for the no parking ordinance can be removed, along with the signs. If you wish to have further discussions concerning this no parking ordinance, you may contact Katie Hite, our Division Traffic Engineer, at Thanks!"

Feb 3, 2011 @ 6:12 PM

11. Brinker said...

Thanks for your response Allen Pope. We all agree that children should be safe. However, if a parent is allowing a child to run in front of cars, I am not sure a series of 30plus signs can make a difference. It's more of a fundamental issue that signs cannot fix.

BTW, isn't this a fragment?
"From what was appropriate for the intersection, parents parking on the shoulder for student drop off, sewer installation, widening of the roadway, bike lanes, sidewalks/multi-use paths, and the school redevelopment."

SBA - love the shot of your car wedged between the signs.

Feb 4, 2011 @ 7:57 AM

12. Michael said...

"Unfortunately, the group is wanting pedestrian and bicycle paths which are municipality responsibilities."

Oh how they miss the freaking big picture!
This is from the Getting Connected Mission Statement and this pursuit is clearly not aimed at only benefiting one small "group":

"Provide Ogden Elementary School children safe and healthy access to their school in accordance with the Federal and State Safe Routes to School initiative;
•Reduce the continually increasing traffic in the areas around Ogden Elementary School, thereby making the roads safer for everyone;
•Improve the health of our citizens of all ages through safe and easy access for walking and bicycling;
•Provide better and safer alternative means to commute to nearby grocery and retail stores, banks, library, medical and professional offices, restaurants, and more, by CONNECTING the already established and underused bicycle pedestrian paths beginning at Military Cutoff Road and further connecting to Eastwood Road and beyond, thereby CONNECTING thousands of citizens in the greater Wilmington area in a healthy, safe, community spirited environment;
•Reduce carbon emissions thereby improving the quality of the air we all breathe;
•Reduce the amount of fossil fuels being burned and conserve energy, helping to break America's dependence on oil by providing safe routes within our neighborhoods."

What is "unfortunate" is that our public officials appear to be so DIS-connected with the needs of their community!

And to think that we should be thanking them for modifying the roundabout to accommodate a pedestrian crossing! Are they freaking kidding? That should be part of every road project in every community especially yards from a public school. WTF?

(Sorry Erol for taking over your post!)

Feb 7, 2011 @ 10:21 PM


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