The article “South Bethany plans actions on pets, bikes, not barricade,” published Jan. 1, notes the continued concerns of South Bethany residents annoyed with the seven-days-a-week barricade into their neighborhood on Black Gum Drive and Cat Hill residents fearful that any lessening of restrictions will endanger the safety of local residents.
With housing construction west of South Bethany increasing dramatically, it is likely that very soon more traffic will use Black Gum Drive through Cat Hill, perhaps prompting calls by locals to expand the hours the road is closed.
There is no question that Black Gum Drive is an inherently dangerous road. It has numerous curves and blind spots, and the road itself is barely wide enough for two cars to pass. I can’t imagine a developer or town would be allowed to build such a road today. But most problematic is that there is no area at all for pedestrians to walk along the road, except on the road itself.
Perhaps due to the size of the house lots bordering Black Gum Drive, homeowners have literally built right up to the street, placing plants, landscaping rocks, garbage receptacles, mailboxes and other things along the road. All of these obstacles force walkers, and especially bicycles, onto Black Gum Drive, making for a very dangerous situation.
But by providing a safe passage along Black Gum Drive most of the Cat Hill residents’ safety issues can be addressed. For example, all mailboxes could be moved to one side of the street, such as is done on nearby South Bethany streets, like Petersen Drive. Cat Hill residents on the mailbox free side of the street could move their decorations, landscaping, garbage cans and anything else which is non-essential back three feet away from the side of the road. While not perfect, this would at least provide a safe passageway on one side of Black Gum Drive where cars and pedestrians can be safely separate.
This is not a radical solution. It is also a solution which Black Gum Drive residents could implement themselves, without South Bethany town intervention. If successful, perhaps Black Gum residents could petition the town to pour a sidewalk along side of the road with the three-foot passageway.
This solution won’t help with the car volume, but that is an issue which the entire town is facing. Simply trying to hold back traffic is, at best, a short-term solution. If safety truly is a concern, then a long-term solution is needed.
Joseph P. Petito