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Traffic light going up

Northbound and southbound signs at the RiverPointe Drive/Grand Palisades Pkwy. crossing of N.C. 49 announce a coming light.
Northbound and southbound signs at the RiverPointe Drive/Grand Palisades Pkwy. crossing of N.C. 49 announce a coming light.

STEELE CREEK -- Following a Charlotte City Council vote last week to move forward on funding the project, a new traffic light should be up at RiverPointe Drive/Grand Palisades Pkwy. and N.C. 49 by early next month.

"It needed to be done," said RiverPointe Homeowners Association president Jason Baker. "It's absolutely an urgent situation out there."

Council unanimously approved the $284,000 payment from Crescent Resources for the light April 27. Shortly after signs went up announcing the coming light, along with a speed reduction from 55 mph to 45 through the intersection, work to install a temporary light began. The temporary light should be up by June 5, with the permanent light up by April of next year.

RiverPointe residents argued for years that a light was needed, but funding for the project never arrived. The Palisades developer Rhein Medall Communities and Crescent Resources originally were to pay for the light, though that cost eventually became the responsibility of Crescent.

Last month, following numerous resident complaints that something similar could happen, a wreck at the intersection killed three people, with two of the three drivers involved charged with the deaths following what police say onlookers describe as a street race.

"I'm pleased that they're reacting as quickly as they are to the situation," Baker said. "It's too tragic that it takes this kind of loss before someone can be proactive."

While residents for years were "screaming at the top of our lungs" on the issue, Baker said, within days of the wreck local and state department of transportation officials were in contact, telling Baker they were expecting his call.

According to the Charlotte Observer, Carlene Carol Atkinson of Lake Wylie was arrested just last week after turning herself in at the Mecklenburg County jail. Atkinson, whose car was not involved in the wreck, faces the same second degree murder charges as the driver whose car was, Tyler Stasko, and a $3 million bond.

Stasko has been released from jail on a $45,000 bond and awaits trial.

Following that wreck, even more attention came to the need for a light at the intersection, which residents said could have prevented it. Even Rhein Medall weighed in, saying they "have done everything in our power to move that process forward."

"We support the calls for a light at the intersection, and we have wanted a traffic light in that location for some time," said president Jim Medall. "Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of those who died and were injured. It is our hope that a light will be installed in that location as soon as possible."

Residents of RiverPointe, who most fear the left turn on N.C. 49 at peak traffic times, hope nothing else happens prior to the temporary light installation.

"This is something that makes the Lake Wylie community safer," Baker said of the light. "It makes RiverPointe safer, Palisades safer. It helps everyone."