Kinston community voices concerns over proposed removal of traffic lights

KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) – One community in the east voiced their concerns on a proposal to remove traffic lights in their city.

Over the past few days, there have been some debates in Kinston regarding the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s proposed removal of traffic lights along a main downtown road.

“If you take those traffic lights out there’s a good chance there will be more traffic accidents,” Angelo Fordham, a concerned driver, said.

The city invited the community to share their opinions about the NCDOT’s suggestion to remove three traffic lights at a public meeting on Tuesday.

The lights are located along Queen Street at the intersections of Caswell, Gordon, and North Streets.

“When you go to one you’ll stop, you’ll go to the next one and possibly have to stop at that one and there will be another one on the side streets and then the same thing to the next one so in order to help with progression and mobility through Queen Street, we have proposed a removal of the signal,” NCDOT Division II Traffic Engineer Jim Evans said.

According to Evans, the proposal would have stop signs on the side streets to replace the lights, leaving Queen Street free-flowing. Fordham said stop signs aren’t a good move, as it leaves it up to drivers to figure out who goes next.

“There has to be a lot of consideration given and I’m not sure everybody gonna be considerate of the other person,” Fordham said.

Drivers aren’t the only ones concerned with the proposal. Dee Smith said she walks every day along the streets and has had some close encounters.

“Even with the stoplights, it’s a challenge to get across because people just don’t drive as they should,” Smith said. “I personally think it’s a bad idea for that to happen.”

Smith said she hopes the traffic lights stay to keep drivers and pedestrians safe.

According to Evans, the NCDOT expected to receive some backlash but didn’t expect the amount it’s already gotten. He said the department will take everything into consideration before a decision is made.

Evans said if the proposal moves forward, the stoplights could be removed in three to six months. If it does not, there are a couple of different proposals and options the NCDOT will look at to improve safety.