Soon to be a turn for the worse
August 6, 2006
Turning off of Highway 267 in Martis Valley to get to the amenities on either side ” the Martis Lake or Martis Creek areas ” was just as harrowing this last weekend as it was about a year ago ” the last time I wrote about the problem.
But the issue of turn lanes being installed for drivers trying to get off the highway in a safe and sane manner didn’t hit home again until Saturday evening. On my way to go running with my dog at Martis Creek I went through the usual STPMV ” Standard Turning Procedures Martis Valley ” as I was about a quarter mile from the right-hand turn: Tap breaks, flip turn signal, slow down, tap breaks again, ease onto shoulder and turn.
Even with my full array of “intent to turn” notification, the Escalade behind me apparently didn’t think he needed to back off. Had there not been a queue of cars heading north on the highway he would have undoubtedly blasted past in the opposite lane. But with his path blocked he just bared down.
Since I stared my STPMV at about 55 mph, the posted limit, or 60, then slowed for the turn, the rate he closed the gap meant he must have been going well over the limit.
The scenario is even worse when trying to take a left off 267. It’s full-on vulnerability waiting in the middle of the highway with only a blinking turn signal as protection.
Meanwhile, after making my turn, prying my fingers off the wheel, letting loose a barrage of unprintable words and then parking at the lot, I noticed a flyer on the bulletin board urging folks fed up with similar death-defying turns to contact Caltrans about installing turn lanes.
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Just about a year ago I spoke to Jacqui Zink, the park ranger at Martis Creek Lake about the situation. Then ” as now, evidenced by the flyer ” she and others were and still are imploring Caltrans to build turn lanes, but to no avail.
Zink said both use areas on either side of Highway 267 get 6,000 to 7,000 visitors a month. In July 2004, about 7,400 people jogged, strolled or walked their dogs at either of the Martis areas. In July 2005 about 7,800 people were tallied.
My guess is those numbers are pretty much the same this year.
And while the skid marks and broken taillights show that it can get dicey out on 267, until there are enough accidents and fatalities that meet Caltrans’ threshold the sad fact is nothing will get done.
Nonetheless, who knows what a slew of phone calls might do? The Caltrans District 3 Office is in Marysville at 530-741-4211.
Jamie Bate is the editor of the Sierra Sun. Reach him at email@example.com