It was the last straw, er, brick.
After a car crashed into Laura DeVault’s townhome on Matilda and Belmont, plowing through the brick facade and into her study, the City of Dallas finally decided to make the intersection a four-way stop.
Susan Langley came upon the accident moments after it happened and couldn’t believe her eyes.
“The headlights were in the house. It was just a very eerie, weird situation,” she says.
The jeep that had been trying to cross Matilda was overturned in the middle of the road after the car, driven by an unlicensed 16-year-old, had smashed into it then careened into the townhome.
Luckily, no one was seriously hurt. But Langley, a Hollywood Heights resident who often uses Belmont as a cut-through, was fed up.
“I’ve tried to cross (Matilda) myself, and the traffic was so bad that it was scary. Especially when you’ve got an infant in the car,” she says. “In the dark, you just have to go for it.”
With stop signs posted only for Belmont traffic, trying to get across the road between cars traveling down Matilda (that often don’t adhere to the 30 miles per hour speed limit) is not the only problem for drivers. It’s also being aware that the intersection is a two-way stop, not a four-way stop, a detail that many drivers miss despite the bold signage declaring as much.
But, as Langley points out, “obviously if they have to warn the people who are crossing, that’s a sign that there’s a problem.”
She called the city the morning after the accident to register her complaint and got the usual “we’ll look into it” response. But to Langley’s surprise, she received a phone call a few weeks ago with the news that the city would be putting stop signs on Matilda complete with red warning flashers so drivers won’t miss them.
“Do you know how many times I’ve called 311 to report code violations, and it’s never been acted on?” Langley says. “So for this to work out was — wow.”
Councilwoman Angela Hunt had also been on the case, and neighborhood activist Avi Adelman, who lives just down the street, had circled a petition in an attempt to garner 120 signatures for the cause.
“We were about 50 short of a full deck,” says Adelman, whose barkingdogs.org blog proclaims three constants of life in Lower Greenville: The sun will rise, the sun will set, and there will be at least one traffic accident a week at Matilda and Belmont.
The city didn’t want to make the intersection a four-way stop because it’s so close to the stoplight at Matilda and Richmond, says Mohammed Bah, the transportation department’s northeast district engineer. But the townhome accident triggered another look at the situation, and though the intersection has no history of fatal accidents, the city wasn’t willing to take that chance.
“After reviewing the accidents and near misses that have been happening there for quite a long time, we realized that something had to be done,” Bah says.
And quickly — the stop signs and flashers will be posted any day now.
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