For three years running, just north of downtown, the S-curved stretch on Capital Boulevard between Lane Street and the railroad bridge a few hundred feet to the north, has been ranked as the state’s most hazardous section of roadway, due to the type, number and severity of crashes that have occurred there.
John Sandor, a Transportation Engineer with the City of Raleigh, said the accidents— 230 between 2007 and 2012, according to data compiled by the North Carolina Department of Transportation — are mostly an even split between inbound and outbound traffic from downtown.
“This is probably commuters that take this thing every single day,” he said of the car crashes.
He said drivers “kind of just push that envelope and then one day their tires are just that much more worn out, and they slide into the wall or the grass or the light poles. People just take that stuff out left and right.”
A few years back, Sandor said, the city had recently completed a $10,000 replacement of a gateway sign greeting Capital Boulevard commuters into downtown Raleigh.
“I had it reinstalled – just brand new – and literally the next week someone drove through the thing,” he said.
The sign has not been replaced.
Each year, the state Department of Transportation compiles a list of the most hazardous sections, intersections and bicycle-pedestrian intersections across the state’s highways and byways. The list takes into account a number of factors, chief among them the frequency of accidents and the injuries sustained, using data compiled over a five-year period.
The Capital Boulevard stretch has ranked No. 1 on the section report for the past three years. However, the city uses the intersection report to compile its own high-hazard location list, because most of the section reports occur on highways not within the city’s jurisdiction. The second most hazardous section in Raleigh, ranked fifth in the state, for example, is on I-440, while the third and fourth in the city are on I-540.
Brandon Watson, the transportation analyst for the city of Raleigh responsible for putting together the city’s list, said the data is used to determine what, if any improvements can be made at the assorted problem intersections.
Below is a list of 2013’s 10 most hazardous intersections in Raleigh.
The closest intersection to the center of downtown on this list, this four-way, six-lane intersection is likely better known for its proximity to Snoopy’s and Char-Grill than its relatively high rate of accidents. It’s ranked 199th overall in the state, and was 14th on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 65 crashes, 52 percent of them frontal impact and half of them occurring at night. RPD data shows 21 crashes in 2011, 14 in 2012 and a total of 9 through Nov. 14, 2013.
Commuters who take I-40 and turn right onto Saunders in south Raleigh to head into the city may get the impression that this four-way junction with a highway on-ramp and off-ramp is far more hazardous than it actually is. The intersection is ranked 191st overall in the state, and was 11th on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 439 crashes, 16 percent of them frontal impact. RPD data shows four crashes in 2011, 14 in 2012 and a total of five through Nov. 14, 2013. As with the Capital/540 intersection, many of the incidents here are dealt with by the SHP.
As with the Edwards Mill intersection, it may come as a surprise that this isn’t higher on the list, though this is less an intersection than it is a confluence of on-ramps and off-ramps and multiple lights from which to turn off Glenwood and onto Wade. It’s ranked 154th overall in the state, and was not on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 68 crashes, and it is noted for having a significant accident number increase compared to the prior year. RPD data shows 22 crashes in 2011, 32 in 2012 and a total of 29 through Nov. 14, 2013. Like the one at Edwards Mill, the RPD numbers for this intersection are slightly higher than the official ones tallied by NCDOT as a result of its non-traditional layout.
Far enough down in south Raleigh that it’s practically in Garner, this massive, four-way intersection handles traffic from 22 oncoming lanes. It’s ranked 131st overall in the state, and was 10th on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 257 crashes, 34 percent of them frontal impact crashes. RPD data shows 11 crashes in 2011, 18 in 2012 and a total of 15 through Nov. 14, 2013.
6. Wade/Edwards Mill
For the countless commuters who traverse the winding, hilly path of Wade Avenue daily, it may come as a surprise that an intersection with it does not appear higher on the list. The total number of crashes on Wade has, according to RPD data, been steadily increasing during the past three years — from 472 in 2011, to 523 in 2012 to a total of 528 through Nov. 14 of this year. However, the number of incidents alone do not determine an intersection’s ranking.
Although not an intersection in the strict sense such as many of the previous ones, as travelers to and from this west Raleigh location are able to switch roads through merging on and off, the number of incidents was enough to rank it 128th overall in the state, and was 18th on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 104 crashes, with 46 percent having occurred at night. RPD data shows 38 crashes in 2011, 57 in 2012 and a total of 43 through Nov. 14. Because this is not an intersection in the strict sense, the RPD numbers tally slightly higher due to the way they are recorded by the responding officers.
Another four-way juncture that includes an on and off-ramp, this busy intersection in northeast Raleigh scopes with 14 lanes of traffic, many of them having recently passed through the hazardous downtown Capital Boulevard corridor. It’s ranked 165th overall in the state, and was fifth on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 287 crashes, 19 percent of them frontal impact. RPD data shows 24 crashes in 2011, 22 in 2012 and a total of 20 through Nov. 14. As the State Highway Patrol responds to some of the incidents here, not all incidents are reflected in the RPD numbers.
Slightly less than a mile west from the New Hope intersection is another four-way junction, where nine lanes come together — although one route is an exit ramp for 440, and another an entrance ramp. The intersection is ranked 54th overall in the state and was sixth on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 204 crashes. Although this is higher than the number at New Hope, the severity of the accidents is lower: 39 percent of the crashes here are frontal impact, compared with 58 percent at New Hope. RPD data shows 78 crashes in 2011, 80 in 2012 and a total of 82 through Nov. 14.
In the past five years there have been a total of 134 crashes, 46 percent of them frontal impact. RPD data shows 18 crashes in 2011, 21 in 2012 and a total of 15 through Nov. 14.
3. Duraleigh/Pleasant Valley
Located just off of Glenwood Avenue in northwest Raleigh, this four-way intersection merges traffic coming from a total of 12 lanes. The intersection is ranked 61st overall in the state, and was 20th on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years there have been a total of 44 crashes, many of them frontal impact and a significant portion occurring at night. RPD data shows 10 crashes in 2011, 10 in 2012 and a total of nine through Nov. 14.
A confusing jumble of an intersection in northwest Raleigh, this four-way intersection is similar to the one at Poole and 440. There is a four-way split, but two of those serve as ramps on and off of Glenwood, which bridges over Lumley. The intersection is ranked 56th overall in the state and was third on Raleigh’s 2012 list, the only one in the top ten to retain its position.
1. Poole/New Hope Road
A four-way intersection in southeast Raleigh, vehicles converge here from a total of 15 different lanes, including those designated solely to left and right turns. The intersection is ranked 47th overall in the state and was seventh on Raleigh’s 2012 list.
In the past five years, there have been a total of 98 crashes, the majority of them frontal impact. According to data provided to the Record from the Raleigh Police Department, there were a total of 16 crashes at this intersection in 2011, 28 in 2012, and a total of 14 through Nov. 14.