My Turn: Alder Creek Road and Hwy 89: More accidents waiting to happen
August 3, 2007
I became sick to my stomach as I picked up the July 30 edition of the Sierra Sun and read the caption under the photo of a demolished car.
All I had to do was read that this happened traveling north on Highway 89 and I knew that it must have happened at Alder Creek Road ” and it did.
The “sick to my stomach” was caused by the pain always felt for the loss of another human being and the remembering of driving north on 89 a few years back, only to come across the exact same accident scene, except that the broad-sided car was my brother’s. Thankfully, split second differences in timing left my brother, and the passenger of the other car, uninjured.
I am also sick to my stomach that after the fatal accident there in 1999, my brother’s accident (and likely others), there still has been nothing done to make this intersection safer and I did nothing either.
This time, I will at least write some letters to people who can make sure this extremely urgent safety problem is addressed. I hope others will join me.
Truckee Police Officer J.D. Elliot is quoted in the article “I think a major part of this accident is the design of this intersection.” I agree, and believe this statement should be taken as fact. The article also quoted that “An improperly installed car seat was blamed for the fatal outcome of the June 15, 1999 collision.” Even so, if the intersection had not been so dangerous, the accident would have likely never occurred, thus not needing a reason to blame the car-seat installer.
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For those that are not intimately familiar with this section of Highway 89 and the intersection at Alder Creek Road, please let me explain. There is an approximately half-mile long, straight and steep hill leading down towards Alder Creed Road, with a 55 mph speed limit, and then a fairly sharp and fairly blind corner (especially at these speeds), immediately north of Alder Creek Road.
I believe that it is safe to say that most cars travel at least 55 mph down this hill, with many reaching speeds above 60 mph. Traveling from the east side of Alder Creek Road to the west side or turning left (south) onto 89, you are not able to see the cars traveling north on 89 until they are within a few hundred yards of the intersection, while getting a plain view of the potentially deadly cars speeding down the hill towards you from the south.
These southbound vehicles (especially large trucks) are also traveling at least 55 mph and also trying to maintain speed for the upcoming hill, after the fairly blind corner and Alder Creek Road. So you are trying to turn onto or cross 89 with vehicles traveling from either direction at speeds of 55 mph and faster with a fairly blind corner on the north side of the intersection. Traveling from the west side of Alder Creek Road is a little safer and the drivers on that side tend to be courteous to those on this other side because of this.
Being an adventure sport enthusiast, I often have people comment on the danger, and I let them know that any adventure I ever get involved in always seems safer then negotiating the Highway 89/Alder Creek Road intersection.
Solutions? Though I have many thoughts, I am not the expert here. However, there are many in this town that are experts and have the means to address this urgent safety concern. With all the hundreds of millions of dollars and years of development being invested into this community, I hope that those with the resources and authority will invest a few pennies and minutes into this community wide safety issue.
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