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DOT study recommends safety changes to Independence Boulevard

The 14-month study focused on ways to make it easier and safer for pedestrians to cross the highway.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Traffic engineers are recommending several safety changes following years of pedestrians getting hit and killed by cars on Independence Boulevard in Charlotte and Matthews.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation, the city of Charlotte and the town of Matthews recently completed a joint 14-month study, which examined and proposed solutions to give pedestrians multiple options to safely cross the highway.

"It's a difficult corridor because the corridor is very wide," Brian Mayhew, an NC DOT traffic safety engineer, said. "There's a lot of lanes in both directions; a lot of traffic; the speeds can be very high."

Some of the short-term solutions proposed in the study include raising the height of jersey barriers in the middle of the highway, putting up more pedestrian signs, and installing better lighting along sidewalks.

It also recommended longer-term solutions, including building pedestrian bridges and tunnels, such as one between Idlewild Road and East W.T. Harris Boulevard.

However, those longer-term solutions would take years of planning and construction as well as cost money.

But after last week's incident when an off-duty CMPD officer hit a man trying to cross Independence Boulevard, Mayhew said changes need to be made soon.

RELATED: Pedestrian struck by off-duty CMPD officer in unmarked vehicle

"People could make a decision in a second that could have major impacts," Mayhew said. "It's still important for us to continue to try to look for any opportunity we can in a reasonable way to improve safety."

The next step is for DOT, Charlotte, and Matthews to go over the study's recommendations and figure out which projects can be funded and which can be added to projects already on the books.

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