NEW ALBANY — Charlestown Road residents have expressed concerns for their safety after a police chase Monday resulted in destroyed property and are again asking the city to implement safety measures in the neighborhood.
Residents have expressed concerns about the curve on Charlestown Road, around Eighth Street and Grant Line Road, for years after facing several dangerous situations.
Crystal Lewis has lived at a house on Charlestown Road for three years and said that unless cars are moving really slowly, the road is too narrow for them to round the curve without crossing the yellow line.
Ann McNally bought the property one house down from Lewis in 2016 that she now rents to her daughter’s boyfriend. She has also noticed the difficulty drivers have going around the curve in the neighborhood.
“People speed down that road all the time; people miss that curve all the time,” McNally said.
“Unless you slow down to about 10 or 15 miles per hour, and even then it’s very, very narrow trying to stay within the yellow line,” she said.
The stolen SUV from the police chase crashed into three cars in McNally’s driveway, totaling two of them. The crash also resulted in damage to the carport and building.
McNally’s daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend were in the driveway less than 10 minutes before the stolen SUV crashed into the other cars. She said it was terrifying to think about the small window of time between them leaving the driveway and the incident.
“It could have been so much worse,” she said.
Lewis had the same experience of worrying about her children’s safety about a year ago, when a car coming around the curve hit her neighbor’s front steps, flipped and landed in her front yard.
She remembers waking up to loud noises in the middle of the night and looking out of the window to see headlights shining into her house from the yard.
Lewis said the driver was found to be under the influence and had passed out while driving. Her husband had to cut the driver out of her seatbelt while the couple waited for police to arrive.
Two of Lewis’s three children had been at the front of the house during the incident, and afterward she said she couldn’t sleep thinking about how worried she felt. She rearranged the rooms so that her children would no longer be in the front for fear of another accident happening and a car crashing into her home.
“I don’t feel safe in my own house,” she said.
The police chase on Monday also resulted in Lewis’s trash cans being destroyed, making a third time they have had to be replaced this year from being hit by cars.
Lewis said that she is usually also responsible for any cleanup necessary from her trash cans being hit. She said she still finds pieces of the car that flipped in front of her house when doing yard work.
After the police chase, McNally called New Albany City Council Member Jason Applegate to come look at the issues on the street. Applegate called Eco-Tech to help with cleanup from the incident, and the waste company also provided new trash cans for residents whose were destroyed.
Applegate said that it might be difficult to determine the level of safety on the road from just the police chase incident, but that it is important to look at residents’ concerns when they feel unsafe because of it.
McNally said that she has requested the city put in flashing lights or something to bring attention to the curve. Lewis said she has asked for a guardrail to be put up to at least protect the homes from any accidents that may happen in the future.
“It’s becoming increasingly worse. Every time something happens it seems like it’s worse than before,” Lewis said.
No residents have been harmed but both McNally and Lewis expressed concern that it is going to take a death for any changes to be made.
Lewis said that property is replaceable but lives are not.
“I don’t want it to be one of us next,” she said.
Council member Josh Turner said that earlier this year he received photos from Lewis showing how often cars are coming and destroying property in the area. He said that when the city sees a situation come up like this three times in one year the city needs to do something about it.
Turner said that he and other council members have already been pushing for traffic calming in the city.
“We’ve recently slowed down speed limits in our main roads, but we haven’t adjusted anything on the neighborhood roads,” Turner said, “What the city has done by lowering these main arterial roads is they’ve created danger in the neighborhoods.”
Lewis said that traffic on Charlestown Road in front of her house gets heavy. Ever since the road was transitioned from a one-way street to a two-way street, she said it has become a huge cut-through for drivers.
Turner said that he is hoping that different traffic calming methods can be implemented in the city — be it stop signs, speed bumps or speed tables — to deter drivers from going through neighborhoods at high speeds.
The News and Tribune left a message for the Street Department at noon Tuesday but had not heard back as of 5 p.m. the same day.