Changes start Monday to congested intersection near UNCW

The new safety improvement project will start on Monday. (Photo: Monique Robinson/WWAY)

WILMINGTON,NC (WWAY) — The City of Wilmington is starting a new traffic pattern Monday that could ease some road congestion near the college.

The Racine Drive and College Acres Drive intersection has become one of the areas to watch when driving, walking and even riding your bike!

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Residents say “pack your patience,” when crossing this intersection.

Starting Monday, the city will start a safety improvement project at this intersection less than a mile from the school campus.

Tom Laveenia says, over the last 17 years, he’s seen an uptick in drivers in this area.

“I been here for 17 years and we’ve always hoped for a traffic light, but I guess they’re trying to cut down on some of the turning traffic,” Laveenia said. “But, you got a lot of back up at this particular intersection.”

He says a lot of drivers try to avoid South College during rush hour, make their way through the campus and end up here.

“Seems that patience is not a commodity in the world today,” Laveenia said. “I know that. I come up here and I see that I’m 5 cars back. I just assume turn around and get another way to go through this area.”

Laveenia calls the intersection of College Acres Drive and Racine Drive a madhouse during rush hour.

“There are peaks during the day and usually that’s in conjuction with the students getting off from school,” Laveenia said.

But, the City of Wilmington’s traffic engineers say a traffic signal would not work. They report the roads are too close together to be effectively coordinated with each other.

Laveenia says it’s just a matter of time before these crashes turn fatal.

“There is a big pit back here,” Laveenia said. “They fill it up and within weeks it’s a pit again. To avoid you, you’ve got to swing out wide and, if there is traffic here crowding it, depending on how good of a driver you are: you get your option of hitting a car or hitting one of these poles on the side.”

So what will be done? Starting Monday, the city will prohibit left turns off of College Acres Drive onto Racine Drive.

Laveenia says this will only put a bandage on the problem.

“They really need a traffic signal,” Laveenia said.

Well, the City explored a 4-way stop control, a traffic signal, and a roundabout, but engineers say these won’t work.

Previous improvements in this area including installing overhead flashers, oversized stop signs, stop ahead signage, upgraded crosswalk markings, post reflectors and solar flashers.