JONESVILLE — By a margin of nearly three-to-one, the participants in an online poll conducted by The Union Daily Times believe a stoplight is needed at the intersection of U.S. 176 and New Hope Church Road in the Jonesville area.
Statistics compiled by the S.C. Department of Public Safety show that there have been 38 accidents at the intersection since 2005. The statistics, which include only accidents that resulted in more than $1,000 in vehicle damage and/or injuries or fatalities, show that between 2005 and now, there were 38 collisions involving a total of 75 vehicles at or near the intersection. While none of the accidents resulted in fatalities, a total of 29 people were injured.
Of the 38 accidents that occurred during the past eight years, 12 occurred before JEMS opened in 2009 and 26 since then. The year with the most collisions was 2010 with nine while 2006 had the fewest with one. October was the month with the most collisions with nine while April and September had the fewest with two each. Wednesday and Friday had the most collisions during the week with seven each while Saturday had the fewest with three.
Most of the accidents involved only two vehicles, but some involved more including the collision that occurred on Feb. 15. Four cars were involved and the drivers of two were taken to the hospital.
The Feb. 15 collision was the most recent of the accidents to occur at the intersection and has led parents in the Jonesville area to renew their call for a stoplight to be installed. The accident also spurred the organization of a community meeting which was held on Feb. 26 in which parents of JEMS students and other Jonesville area residents voiced their concerns about the intersection and urged public officials present to install a stoplight there.
Meeting organizer Nancy Millwood pointed out that the number of accidents at the intersection had tripled in the past five years, adding that her mother-in-law had been in one of those accidents. Millwood said the accident, which occurred in November, involved her mother-in-law’s car being struck on the passenger side. She said at the time her mother-in-law was on her way to the school to pick up her nieces. Had she been on her way back from the school when the collision occurred, Millwood said there would been “four innocent lives in the car.”
Among the public officials attending the meeting was State Rep. Mike Anthony who said U.S. 176 was built to expedite travel to Spartanburg and the interstates. Anthony said the intersection is the only one without a stoplight, further describing it as especially confusing to someone turning left to travel toward Union.
Two deputies of the Union County Sheriff’s Office direct traffic at the intersection at the beginning and end of the school day and Sheriff David Taylor, who also attended the meeting, said the reason he assigns two deputies is because the intersection is too dangerous for just one. Taylor said he has had deputies nearly get hit while directing traffic there, adding that four or five cars in the median can prevent a driver from having a clear field of vision. He said he has a personal interest because his grandson attends JEMS and while his mother does not bring him to school via the intersection, she leaves that way.
Also addressing the meeting was S.C. Department of Transportation District Engineer John McCarter who said the system the department currently has in place at the intersection is inadequate. McCarter said his objective is to make the intersection as safe as possible and that department is looking at four possible alternatives because he said a stoplight is not always the answer. He presented data showing that there are approximately 91,000 intersections and that 35,000 crashed occurred at those intersections in 2012. Of those, 45 percent were at intersections with traffic signals. Of the 151 fatalities that resulted in those collisions, 35 were at signalized intersections.
McCarter said he was not convinced that a stoplight is the solution, but did say he has the support of the SCDOT commissioner and that he expects a decision to be made about the intersection within the next two weeks.
While McCarter is not convinced a stoplight is the solution, an overwhelming majority of the participants in an online poll conducted by The Union Daily Times are convinced that a stoplight is needed.
Posted on The Union Daily Times website (www.uniondailytimes.com), the poll asked, “The intersection of U.S. 176 and New Hope Church Road in the Jonesville area has been the scene of 38 automobile accidents in the past eight years. The most recent of these was on February 15 and involved four vehicles. The presence of Jonesville Elementary/Middle School near the intersection has led to calls for a stoplight to be installed. Should a stoplight be installed at the intersection?”
Of the 42 people who took part in the poll, 71 percent said yes while 29 percent said no.
This week’s online poll asks whether not Union County should follow in the footsteps of the Bonham Fire Department and be willing to relocate its facilities in the Bonham community to accommodate industrial development. The poll asks, “The Bonham Fire Department is willing to relocate if the site of its current fire station is needed for industrial growth. If the expansion of existing industry and/or the recruitment of new industry requires it, should Union County relocate the county jail, detention center, public works department and other county facilities in the Bonham community to accommodate it?”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.