Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Who Has the Power in a Small Town?

Well, I'm back to my "small town vs. big city" discussion again, brought on by a couple incidents today and a discussion with a sheriff's deputy. You know I can usually find some humerus way to present such elements of this theme, but it finally occurred to me that I was dealing with a subject that involved fatalities, and perhaps should be taken seriously.

The incidents were of the same type ... two cars, about 12 hours apart, left the road at the 90 degree turn, leaving wreckage but no injuries, fortunately. As we all know, that is not always the case. The first accident I did not see happen, but I heard about it from Sean and watched the cleanup this morning.

It seems that a honeymooning couple from California was passing through when  their car slipped on the ice at the 90 degree turn Monday night. The car spun around and headed for the cliff, and fortunately it stopped in plenty of time. (That is not always the case.) The couple soon met Sean and (I think) Wendy, who helped them get set up in one of the guest houses, hoping they could get a pull out of the ditch they were in  the next morning. Unfortunately, the next morning  I watched while a tow truck pulled the vehicle out of the ditch, and the couple was left trying to find which tow truck it was.

The second car off the road at the turn was one I got to watch fairly close up, since it happened in  front of my house. A woman and her daughter travelled from Portland to here (heading for Chimacum), only to round the corner and as the driver left the corner, she straitened the wheels, and gave the car a little gas, and felt it slide, then spin, then go off the road onto its side, onto a sidewalk where I had been shoveling earlier in the morning and Kris had been walking five minutes earlier.

Five minutes before this happened,
Kris  walked down the sidewalk.


This is from our house.

In watching the cleanup of this wreck, I was asked by a Sheriff's deputy how long I had lived in the house we are in. I answered about eight months, and he, in great seriousnesss said we must have seen a lot of accidents at that corner.

It made me stop and think. Yes, there were five accidents I could remember on  that corner, and all five of them had involved tow trucks. Then the deputy added one more comment which really made me stop and think. "You'll see a lot more," he said, "this corner is considered to be one of the worst in the county for wrecks."

In Port Angeles the corner of SR101 and the road I lived on was one of the worst in Clallam County for accidents. Certainly monthly, and more often weekly, someone was being towed off the site and into a repair shop. The County was very much on  the state's case about the redesigning needed to save the corner, and  the residents of the road were more than audible about knowing when the commissioners would solve the problems. We had funds that various entities were regularly putting money into, always hoping the money would solve this problem.

So what is happening in small town Port Gamble to solve this problem? This is a question that begs many other questions. Whose responsibility is it, the state or the county? Who keeps a list of the worst intersections? Is it based on injuries or fatalities or the cost of the accidents? If we know which governmental agency should be solving this, do we know which department? And on and on it goes.

Does someone represent our interests in our safety? There is no crosswalk anywhere on the highway to help people cross SR104 from north to south and back again, yet we have encouraged people to make that trek by putting businesses on both sides of the street, and by putting trail heads on one side and parking lots on the other.

 I think maybe our local people think the problems are solved some where else, and solutions are not their responsibility. But isn't the safety of our people (Kris or I could have been crushed by that car) as well as the people who come to visit us at our request our concern? So I ask again as I did when I started: Who has the Power in a Small Town to get changes made, to increase our safety? Or is our safety just at the whim of people we don't even know, who live in some other town?

1 comment:

Peggy said...

If I read and don't leave a comment, you won't know I've been for writing! I'm reading!