My Turn: A reprise of the ‘Race for the Bridge’ in Tahoe City
The following, in part, was printed in the Tahoe World almost three years ago. The situation has worsened and the road rage is escalating as indicated in the last paragraph.
“One of the most common, if informal, recreational activities in Tahoe City is the race for the bridge. These contests, which occur perhaps a hundred times a day year around, so far as I know have not resulted in crashes, injuries or death, which is all to the good.
“For those of you who do not participate, either willingly or not, in these races, the situation is this: If you are traversing westward through Tahoe City and wish to turn left on West Lake Boulevard (SR 89), you have by the courtesy of Caltrans’s traffic engineers two parallel lanes to hold in at the intersection. After the traffic signal turns green, and you turn, you are almost immediately faced with the road narrowing to a single lane of traffic at Fanny Bridge. This provides an ideal setting for an impromptu duel to see which lane occupant reaches the Fanny Bridge first. To the delight of onlookers, this inevitably results in frustration, road rage and near-collisions. These drag races occur several times an hour, but are most frequent when traffic is heavy.
“I find it reprehensible that the Resort Association, the Chamber of Commerce and other advocates of tourism have overlooked this potential tourist attraction and, to the best of my knowledge, have not promoted it as one of the many reasons to visit Tahoe. After all, it has all of the basic requirements for a viable recreational activity: speed, competition, excitement, risk and gratification. What more is needed?”
The problems in the area are no longer matters of amusement. Caltrans has seen fit to replace the “Stop” sign on the approach to the bridge from Truckee with a “Yield” sign, which encourages additional participation in the race. In addition, a highly erratic “Stop” light controlled both by pedestrians and the main signal at the Wye produces irregular and unpredictable traffic flows.
To say the least, the whole traffic situation at the Wye and the Fanny Bridge is a mess, and it is sure to result in a greater incidence of road rage. For example, my son was cut off at the bridge today. When he honked in protest, the other driver responded with obscene gestures, challenges (visual) to fight, very slow driving, etc. for the next mile or so.
My son complained to the California Highway Patrol, but even if they responded, it will not solve the overall problem of road rage at the bridge. Clearly, Caltrans and the county need to do something to significantly reduce the problem. We do not need another road rage-caused death as occurred a year ago in Tahoe City.
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