Hwy. 19E

A section of Hwy. 19E in the Cranberry Gap area where the posted speed limit has recently been reduced from 55 to 45 miles per hour.

CRANBERRY — Last week, The Avery Journal-Times reported that Avery County Commissioner Woodie Young furnished the publication with a message regarding the speed limit reduction on U.S. Hwy. 19E between the Cranberry and Minneapolis communities.

The email, from David Graham of High Country Council of Governments, relayed the response from an NCDOT engineer to an inquiry that originated with Young about why the reduction was made.

The message cited the following reasons for the reduction:

  • The crash rate for the section of U.S. Hwy. 19E is higher than the statewide rate.
  • There are curves within the road alignment.
  • The section’s proximity to driveways connecting to the highway
  • Residences, businesses and a church have parking lots along the edge of the road.

Upon further inquiry by The AJT, Western North Carolina Communications Officer David Uchiyama with the NC Department of Transportation said the change was the result of a review of similar roadways with above-average crash rates requested by the state legislature.

“There is an entire review documentation process that needs to happen,” Uchiyama said.

Uchiyama said the department implements studies on the road using imaging tools and satellite, as well as going into the field.

Among the factors evaluated are precise distances between elements on a section of road, the type of road, comparable limits on nearby roads, average traffic per day, whether schools are nearby and the type of parking.

Uchiyama said the statewide crash rate for this type of road is 148.81 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled. The rate for the area affected by the reduction in speed is 245.87.

Uchiyama said there are more reviews ongoing, noting there are two areas in Buncombe County alone, and a review will not necessarily result in a reduction.

Uchiyama added that reducing the limit reduces the crash rate and allows easy enforcement of limits.

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