Our View: Sad facts and a Safety Corridor
Don’t hold your breath for anything to be done about the dangerous situation at the Highway 89 north-Alder Creek Road intersection.
That’s where 21-year-old Truckee resident Kyle Van Arsdale was killed in a vehicle accident on July 27. A fact even more sad than Arsdale’s death is that Caltrans has a high tolerance for vehicular fatalities. A good example is Highway 49 just south of Grass Valley.
According to the Web site http://www.citizensforhighway49safety.com, a particular stretch of the highway before entering Grass Valley saw numerous accidents and nine fatalities in 2005. And there have been five within the last year as of this month.
It’s not as though Caltrans and the CHP did nothing. Last winter rumble strips and other traffic control features were installed. The CHP also added patrols and wrote more tickets.
Perhaps we can learn from the Citizens for Highway 49 Safety and push Caltrans to make the sections of Highway 89 north leading up to the Alder Creek Road intersection an official “Safety Corridor.” A Safety Corridor is a “segment of highway with a history of high fatal collisions or a segment of highway with potential for fatal and severe collisions that is identified and focused on by state and local officials with increased enforcement, public awareness measures, short-term improvements and long term improvements in order to reduce and prevent fatal and severe collisions,” according to Caltrans’ Office of Traffic Operations.
But again, don’t hold your breath for anything to change on 89 north. While Arsdale’s death is one too many for the Truckee community, the Caltrans bureaucracy operates on spreadsheets, collision/fatality averages and the bottom line.
But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. We must push hard to obtain the Safety Corridor status and then demand short-term improvements like daylight/headlight requirement, new signs and markers and the placement of snowplow-friendly rumble strips.
While those things won’t bring back Kyle Van Arsdale, perhaps they will lessen the chance that another member of our community will leave here too soon.