Wrong-way drivers concern college

Posted 11/21/19

Tim Wright has seen drivers making improper movements in Wilson Community College parking lots many times.

The WCC president’s office is right in front of a main entrance to the campus where …

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Wrong-way drivers concern college

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Tim Wright has seen drivers making improper movements in Wilson Community College parking lots many times.

The WCC president’s office is right in front of a main entrance to the campus where arrows direct traffic left or right into two large parking lots.

The problem is drivers will frequently ignore the arrows and proceed the wrong way, going from one parking lot to the other.

Wright has personally found himself on the pavement confronting drivers going against the flow.

“Somebody is going to get run over here in our front parking spaces here,” Wright said in this week’s Wilson Community College Board of Trustees meeting. “People are just totally ignoring the directional signs. I see people going the wrong way every day.”

Board member Kenneth Jones, speaking for the buildings and grounds committee, said campus traffic flow is the focus of a new study that will look at possible alternatives to improve the situation.

Ray Owens, WCC’s director of facilities, said the flow between the parking lots is a large issue.

“Folks go the wrong way all the time, and they might hit head-on,” Owens said. “They are flying back from one area to another and near about run over you, so it’s a hazard right now, pretty much.”

Wright said it’s common for drivers to depart the campus at the Herring Street entrance, which is not a designated exit.

“I am just waiting for somebody to get hurt,” Wright said.


Wright said another issue is flow on the campus associated with Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education and the future flow from the Sallie B. Howard High School of Biotechnology and Fine Arts, scheduled to open in the fall of 2020.

“The Sallie B. High School is going to be over here sooner than we probably realize, and that certainly is not going to make our situation any better because we get a lot of overflow from the Sallie B. traffic,” Wright said. “We even have folks cutting through campus from Ward Boulevard through the back of the campus going back and forth from Sallie B. and not slow all the time, and I think when you add some high school students, that’s not going to make that situation any better.”

Wright said the community college wants to study the traffic flow issue to see if something can be done to improve safety, particularly looking toward the time when Sallie B. Howard High School opens.

“We communicated with the city and we communicated with Sallie B., and they are not certain what they are going to do about high school traffic,” Wright said.

Wright said the city is aware it needs to do something because Sallie B. Howard Place, a two-lane road that divides the Sallie B. Howard schools from Wilson Community College, will not handle the traffic overload..

“Two or three times a day, that is already packed with cars and school buses and everything else, so we wanted to get ahead of this and start taking a look at it,” Wright said.


Board Chairman David West asked if there is land behind the new school that could be used to wrap the traffic out back that way.

The former Horace Street easement, which connects with Dendrology Drive, could potentially be used, but that area has historically been prone to flooding.

“My understanding is the city hasn’t allowed them permission to open that road for that purpose,” Owens said. “They are working on that now.”

Jones said the biggest impact would be in front of the college along Herring Avenue.

“I think it is worthy of looking at, personally,” Jones said. “So what we should do is an analysis and bring it back to the board with, ‘Here’s what we propose and the costs associated with it.’”

Wright said one option is to reconfigure the Herring Street entrance to accommodate exits as well.

Jones said the study would examine all the alternatives and members would present findings to the board at a future meeting when proposals would be considered and decisions finalized.