NCDOT lowers River Road’s speed limit

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Starting now, you’d better slow down on a six mile stretch of River Road. The state has officially lowered the speed limit less than a month after the plan was presented to New Hanover County Commissioners.

Monday, the NC Department of Transportation officially lowered River Road’s speed limit from 55mph to 45 mph an hour between Sanders and Snow’s Cut Bridge. The reason? River Road’s high number of crashes over the past decade.

“So speeding is an issue out there,” said Division Engineer Chad Kimes. “But when it comes down to it, when you look at the 221 crashes there in a 10 year period, speed was a major player in the majority of those crashes…. and therefore there’s the reason on lowering that speed limit.”

With more than 60 injuries and five deaths stemming from speeding and crashes, Commissioner Rob Zapple said he’s thankful the DOT made the change.

“It adds a total of 92 seconds, let me repeat that, 92 seconds to your trip if you’re a motorist driving down River Road through that six mile stretch,” Zapple emphasized. “So it’s a fair trade off to enhance public safety.”

Though the decision was controversial, homeowners Peter and Virginia Perschbacher remember when people would crash through a nearby fence routinely, and when the roundabouts were installed.

“So many people would crash through that fence,” said Perschbacher. “That recently they stopped repairing it. But now, we haven’t seen any of that happen because of the roundabouts slowing the traffic down.”

They’re hoping the lower speed limit will continue the trend.

“I think it will make it a lot easier for us to get in and out,” Virginia Perschbacher continued. “And I hope it will prevent some of the crashes farther down.”

Though he knows the DOT’s decision was controversial, Zapple hopes the outcome will justify the means.

“We live in a beautiful place. Let’s just make it a safe as we possibly can.”

NCDOT says they are working with law enforcement to ensure drivers abide by the new limit.

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