CHARLES TOWN – Following accidents at the intersection of West Liberty and North Charles streets, police are introducing changes to make the troublesome spot more safe.
“We’ve had two accidents in the area since January. In one, the car flipped over onto its roof,” explained Charles Town Police Chief Chris Kutcher. “You really pay attention when a car flips on its roof in the middle of town.”
On Aug. 28, a car went through the stop sign at the end of North Charles, hit a car traveling on Liberty Street and flipped over.
Kutcher said the area also has tight corners. “Visibility can be a problem so we’ve eliminated four parking spots, two on Liberty and two on Charles to help on a short-term basis. Yellow bags have been placed over the parking meters in the area as a temporary measure until permanent steps are taken.
Kutcher said he’s mulling additional steps including painting the word “STOP” in white on the pavement at the end of Charles Street.
Last week, Kutcher spoke to Charles Town City Council members about the recent accident and the remedies he’d like to see.
City manager Daryl Hennessy said the topic will be listed on the agenda for the council’s next meeting on Sept. 16. “It will most likely go to the street committee, which meets as needed,” he said. “Some adjustments may be warranted like changing sight lines.”
The chief said in an interview that over the past five years about 16 accidents have taken place at the intersection. The city has about 400 crashes a year.
In addition to talking to City Council members, Kutcher also met with people who have businesses on both streets about the elimination of some parking spaces. “Everyone had a good reaction,” he said.
Kelly Smith of The Bennett Agency, the insurance agency on North Charles Street, said she was glad the parking spaces could no longer be used.
“One of our employees literally had her car totaled” when it was parked near the troublesome intersection, Smith said. “At the corner, you really can’t see oncoming traffic that well. It really is a safety issue.”
Sara Anderson of Fuzzy Dog Books & Music on North Charles Street said she appreciated Kutcher letting her know what was going on.
“I may have to walk a little farther to work,” Anderson said. “My main worry is where my customers will park.”