Jacksonville city officials add street lights to Gum Branch Rd. to ensure safety after several incidents

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A major road in Jacksonville is on the way to becoming safer after several incidents along Gum Branch Road, like the murder of Khalil Kirkland and Carl Eisert, the city is taking action.

Khalil’s father made it his mission since his son’s death to address the issue of poor lighting on Gum Branch Road.

Within a month several lights have been posted on this road, including two only feet away from where Khalil was killed.

“You know, it’s not going to bring him back or anything like that,” said Khalil’s father Scott Kirkland.

Dozens of folks are seen walking along the road daily, including Khalil Kirkland and Carl Eisert, who walked the street just over a month ago and were killed.

Gum Branch Road is one of the busiest roads in Jacksonville and Khalil’s father says something had to be done.

“Bring light to the situation and also in memory of my son make sure this doesn’t happen again to anybody else in the community,” said Kirkland.

He says the poor lighting didn’t help his son’s situation after being beaten and ran over.

Since Khalil’s death he’s asked city officials to add more street lights and within weeks the city responded.

“We did our standard procedure of analyzing the amount of traffic and the pedestrian safety and determined that would be an appropriate thing to do,” said Dr. Richard Woodruff, the City Manager for the City of Jacksonville.

Four new lights were posted along the road and Kirkland says the city’s quick response speaks volumes.

“They showed me they care about us here in the community to get it done so quickly.”

With the additional lights, the city manager hopes folks in the community will feel more at ease.

Kirkland says he’s happy to know something good has come out of his son’s death.

“Now it looks a lot more bright, more safer for people if they have to walk and if anything does happen somebody can actually see,” said Kirkland.

The city manager says they often do assessments throughout the city if folks feel their neighborhoods are poorly lit, if you feel yours is they say feel free to give them a call.

The lighting costs the city about 400 thousand dollars a year and an average of 20 dollars a month per light. They renew that cost every year by adding additional lights to areas people specifically request.

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