By ROBIN JOY MAXSON
CalTrans has identified our particular stretch of roadway as a safety corridor. Daytime headlights, radar speed signs, and double-yellow lines with rumble strips have increased safety.
The reduction in fatal collisions is documented, but preventable fatalities continue to occur. With the CHP’s reminder that what can be done are – education, enforcement, and engineering — it is time to move to the engineering aspects of the solution.
Options for our local stretch of SR 67 are:
- Return the highway to one travel lane in each direction and allow absolutely no passing. An unpopular option, but stretches from Adelanto to Kramer Junction (29 miles) have one lane in both directions with the same center divide line as we have — double-yellow, reflective pavement markers and rumble strips — and No Passing posted.
When they do have a passing lane it is on a straight section of road. Unfortunately, SR 67 lacks this physical specification as a curvy mountain road and, with wide shoulders, most cars end up passing on the right side (shoulder) when vehicles slow to turn left.
- Reduce the overall speed limit. Slowing down the speed limit on the entire road is another unpopular option. Bernoulli’s principle seems to be present with the change from two lanes to one lane as drivers speed up with the change from two lanes to one to get one car ahead. At least slow down the traffic around curves as you would on any curvy road. Reduced speed on curves with a yellow flashing light to warn drivers seems to be missing from our section of highway.
- Or, design two lanes in both directions and include a buffering middle lane to be utilized as needed. SR 67 needs a central barrier of some type whether that be a K-Rail or a middle lane that is primarily a buffer between cars traveling in opposite directions. For emergency reasons, e.g., CHP, fire, paramedics, and evacuation in the event of fire — a middle lane that has flexibility for egress seems best suited.
Additionally, left turn lanes and multiple driveways could be practically accommodated with a “middle lane buffer” design. The design of the middle lane buffer would vary as its role changes. Flexible, post-mounted reflectors can be installed to denote space not to be occupied by a vehicle for turning purposes.
Another consideration is wildlife, and a middle lane buffer would permit road crossings for most animals in our area — K-Rails would not. I believe this option is the best for our area. I would include the reduced speed limit on curves with a flashing yellow light, too.
There are no “bad guys.” SR 67 is a problem, and the problem needs to be worked. I have spoken with many people in the community who are representing Ramona at the various agencies with jurisdiction over SR 67. Unfortunately, a few have expressed defeat over the entire issue and suggest effort toward improving this highway is wasted at this time.
Giving up ensures failure. Reducing accidents on SR 67 is a process that has demonstrated a need for continued promotion and advocacy. This is a critical safety issue for Ramona.
Robin Joy Maxson is a Ramona resident.