Community: dangerous intersection needs red light

April 23, 2011 4:20:57 AM PDT
As churches prepare for one of the holiest days of the year, one Houston church is worried about the safety of its congregation.

The New Life Temple Church sits at the intersection of Almeda Genoa and Martin Luther King, and where those streets meet is what concerns church leaders.

A little boy's funeral was interrupted Friday by an accident at the intersection. The senior pastor also says one of her church members was involved in a crash last year while driving to the church. She says she and her neighbors have repeatedly asked for help, but it hasn't happened so far.

As Bishop Brenda Perry prepares for Easter Sunday and a full sanctuary, she's adding one more prayer to her list.

"Lives depend on it, very much so," she said.

She has renewed her call for a traffic signal at the corner of Almeda Genoa and Martin Luther King. Right now, there's just a stop sign and she believes that's not enough.

"It's just an accident all the time," Perry said.

In fact, hours earlier, one happened right before their eyes during a funeral at New Life Temple. A black SUV collided with a small sedan and flipped. Officers had to pull three people, including a child, out.

"The Lord is looking over them," one officer said.

We don't know who was at fault, but Alphonse Simple, who's lived there for 31 years, believes a combination of not paying attention to the stop sign and driving faster than the posted 45 miles per hour on Almeda Genoa oftentimes makes for a dangerous result.

"I can be at my house and I can hear a wreck," he said. "It's early now. Later on it's like whoosh, whoosh, whoosh."

A quick check with Houston police showed between 10 and 15 accidents in the last year, roughly one a month. According to the city's public works department, which looked at this issue last September, it takes five or more accidents within a 12-month period to warrant one, but here's the catch -- those accidents have to have been deemed correctable by a traffic signal. And at the time, officials say they weren't.

"There wasn't enough evidence there to indicate there was an issue," said Jeff Weatherford, deputy director of the Houston Public Works and Engineering department.

"I don't know how many accidents that has to happen before they put a light there," Simple said.

So Simple will keep asking that question and Perry will keep praying.

"We need something done," she said.

The deputy director of public works says they will pull the number of accidents on Monday to see if anything has changed.

Development also has an impact, he says. There is one major development just a couple of blocks away -- the New Frost Elementary will open up in the fall. The church pastor hopes something will happen before parents and their children travel down that stretch of road daily.

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