Cities look for solution for McArthur Dr.
Published 8:43 am Wednesday, November 11, 2015
By Bobby Tingle and Dawn Burleigh
Recent tragic events have raised the concern for the safety of pedestrians along McArthur Drive.
As a result the City of Pinehurst will be engaging other entities to see what can be done. The retail outlets located in Pinehurst and West Orange along McArthur Drive provide lighting in their parking lots. But along the streets visibility is poor.
Pinehurst City officials plan to meet with the Texas Department of Transportation, who is responsible for streetlights in that area, to discuss possibilities for improving visibility. Other options may include contacting Entergy to determine if lights can be installed on utility poles already in place.
Resurfacing and restriping McArthur Drive improved the roadway but not the safety of pedestrians.
Two pedestrian crossings were remarked and yellow caution lights were installed in recent years. The caution lights are a warning to motorists to proceed with caution in the area of the crosswalks.
According to Harry Vine, Code Enforcement Officer with the City of Pinehurst, that may not be enough.
“The two crosswalks offer little protection for pedestrians who attempt to cross the road in this area”, Vine said.
Signs on the caution light poles warn that cross traffic will not stop for those using the marked crosswalk.
The State of Texas recently accumulated traffic totals on this stretch of state highway.
“They determined that the traffic count was not high enough to warrant a traffic control device”, Vine said.
City officials plan to include the City of West Orange in their outreach as they pursue these safety concerns.
Loleecia Hughey, 2, was killed when a vehicle hit her Nov. 23, 2011, in the 2500 block of MacArthur, the day after Thanksgiving. Loleecia’s death prompted requests for lights along the street.
T.W. Permenter, then mayor of Pinehurst, requested that the Texas Department of Transportation do a study to determine if more traffic lights or streetlights were needed.
TxDOT determined there was not enough traffic turning from the side streets along the road to warrant traffic signals, according to minutes from the city of Pinehurst council meetings.
The survey also determined street lights were not needed because of the lack of nighttime accidents. If the connecting cities installed streetlights, TxDOT would not bear the expense of installing or operating them.
Orange City Council is also looking for a solution to the issue.
“We will find a solution to the problem,” Councilmember Larry Spears Jr. said during the Tuesday morning meeting.
Spears also thanked the first responders, firemen and police officers that responded to the scene of the fatal hit and run incident claiming the lives of LaMya Newhouse, 6, and her mother, Ava Lewis, 25, last week.
“There was a quick response,” Spears said. “They often go unlooked and unappreciated.”
Council Member District 1 Patrick Pullen said as an officer he responded to many fatalities on MacArthur Drive.
“It is one of the darkest roads,” Pullen said. “We need to eliminate it for the safety of our citizens.”
Orange City Council said City Manager Dr. Shawn Oubre and City of Orange Director of Economic Development Jay Trahan would assist with finding a solution.