OAK RIDGE, N.C. (WGHP) — After three years of fighting for change, new safety improvements are being added to Haw River Road.
Speed and pedestrian warning signs will go up on the road, which is split between Oak Ridge and Stokesdale.
One mother whose son died on the road feels one change was overlooked. The darkness is what Brooke Tilley really wants Oak Ridge town leaders to address, but she’s happy to see progress being made.
“I’m just really excited to see some change…going on,” she said. “That’s been much needed for quite some time now.”
Tilley’s 11-year-old son Noah Chambers died in 2019 as he crossed Haw River Road near Bethel United Methodist Church, where a trunk-or-treat event was taking place.
Three years later, 14-year-old Aliyah Thornhill was walking in a different spot on the road trick-or-treating when an SUV hit her.
While lighting is not expected to change, in the next few months, a permanent digital radar sign will flash your speed, hoping to get drivers to slow down.
The speed limit on the road is 45 miles per hour. That won’t change. A North Carolina Department of Transportation investigation revealed speed played no role in the deadly crashes.
“If we just have some presence of law enforcement…I think that would be good and…crosswalks,” Tilley said.
NCDOT engineers said because there are no sidewalks in the area, lighted crosswalks aren’t an option. Instead, leaders in Stokesdale approved pedestrian warning signs for the eastern portion of the road.
“It really means a lot because…I would hate to keep seeing that happen year after year,” Tilley said.
There are already some of those signs at the section of the road in Oak Ridge close to where Chambers died.
“Overall, it’s a really good thing…especially for pedestrian safety,” Tilley said.
She’s not going to give up her fight for lights in the area.
Oak Ridge town leaders will have to work with the utility company to install and maintain streetlights, which the town manager said could take years.