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Residents are asking Wilmington City Council to invest in pedestrian safety

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At Tuesday's Wilmington City Council meeting, several residents will present their petition to increase safety downtown.

Already, South 3rd Street is seeing safety improvements at Dock Street in the form of an extended median that will prevent drivers from making dangerous left turns. But neighbors in the area want to see further changes to protect pedestrians.

Denis McGarry has lived on 3rd Street for a decade, and he’s one of the more than 600 residents who’ve signed a petition asking the city to install two stop lights and pedestrian crossings further down 3rd, at Ann and Orange streets.

“We've just seen numerous accidents, both for pedestrians as well as for cars on South 3rd and just, there has to be a better solution than what's going on now,” he said.

Wilmington City Council will consider a resolution at their meeting to apply for a grant to cover the proposal. That means the city would have to pony up $486,000 to meet their 20% funding requirement. The rest would come from a grant that the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization would apply for, with the city's blessing.

McGarry says the cost is worth it: the proposed improvements at Ann and Orange streets will help protect pedestrians, including residents and tourists who spend time in the area looking at historic homes. And there's evidence the area isn't currently safe: about 50% of cars speed down that section of 3rd, according to data provided to the petitioners by the city of Wilmington.

Already, there’s about one car crash a week on 3rd between Castle and Market, which is about 38% more crashes than on North 3rd Street.

McGarry hopes adding stop lights and pedestrian crossings will slow cars down.

“It is a major safety issue. And so consequently, we think that the city needs to step forward,” he said.

The group of residents plan to have three speakers at the city council meeting represent their concerns, including a 12-year-old boy who was struck on 3rd. He says another motorcyclist who was paralyzed after being hit by a car will also provide comment, likely by email.

The resolution will come before council at their 6:30 pm meeting on Tuesday, August 2.

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant new to the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.