UPDATE: Street Lights to be Installed on Deadly Stretch of Road

By: Jennifer Rizzi, Cathleen Moxley Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi, Cathleen Moxley Email

UPDATE 4/22/13 @ 11 p.m.
JEFFERSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A dark and deadly stretch of road will soon get a safety-first makeover, thanks to efforts of a community group.

The Jefferson Business Association lobbied to have street lights installed on MacCorkle Avenue in hopes to save lives - and now, their request was granted.

They say the Department of Highways has promised to install lamps from Kanawha Terrace to Avesta Drive.

"Not having lights is a reason that some [pedestrians] were hit and killed," Jefferson Fire Chief Mark Ford said.

Community members are calling the decision a victory, but not a complete one.

They want to see the lights go all the way to the St. Albans city limits, because they say that stretch is just as dangerous.

"We've had a few fatalities down there ... people hit and killed by vehicles down that way," Ford said.

Fire Department records show that 20 pedestrians were hit along MacCorkle Avenue from 1999-2008.

Four of those cases were deadly.

And the trend continues. In September 2012, Donald Hugle was hit and killed while coming out of Grumpy's bar along MacCorkle Avenue.

Neighbor Andrew Harris says the lack of lights has kept him homebound to feel safe.

"I won't drive at night ... I won't even leave at night," he said. "I just stay in my house."

Harris says the entire stretch needs to see light before another life is claimed.

"The taxpayers out here deserve lights," he said.

Officials say the approved street lamps will be installed in 2014.

JEFFERSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Whether you're driving or walking along MacCorkle Avenue in Jefferson, staying alert and keeping your eyes open is a must.

Some who live and work in Jefferson say the businesses combined with the road and the foot traffic is just a recipe for disaster.

There are many accidents and the outcome is sometimes fatal. Since 2003, at least nine people have died on the stretch of road.

The latest was Wednesday night when a woman in her 30s was hit by a car, and died on her way to the hospital.

Crossing the road is all about strategy for Kerry Smith who just moved here from New York City.

“New York City; at least they have a lot of traffic lights; every block. But here there's constantly traffic flowing,” Smith said.

That makes MacCorkle Avenue an easy target for accidents. On the small stretch through Jefferson, the amount of foot traffic makes the risk even greater.

“You got a lot of bars. You got strip clubs. It's just dangerous,” Anthony Wolfe said. “There's so many places they (pedestrians) could come out from behind; buildings, cars. You really got to be on your toes.”

As scary as the road is for pedestrians, it's not much better behind the wheel. Just a two-second glance into your rear-view mirror and a pedestrian could already be crossing in front of you.

“The traffic is so bad coming from this direction I cannot get in the turn lane to go up Kanawha Terrace,” Stephanie Nunn said.

Nunn works in Jefferson and drives there nearly every day. She says she sees accidents all the time.

“Fifty miles per hour and somebody trying to cross the road is not a very good mix,” Nunn said.

As a driver, she's careful to keep her eyes on the road. As a pedestrian, Smith says he just tries to make it safely to the other side.

“For now I'm crossing safely, but sometimes I have to run across,” Smith said.

Another issue brought up by residents is the bike path by the road. They say some who use it at night don't wear reflective gear; making it tough for drivers to see them.

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