By Danna Givot
This letter has been submitted as public comment to: Ct.public.Information.firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family lives on Quail Rock Road. We have lived here since 2001 and been evacuated twice because of fires. We have great concerns about the impact a median barrier would have on our ability to safely flee Ramona in the event of a fire. Getting out of Ramona (heading west “down the hill”) is already challenging given the number of people fleeing the fires and the associated traffic. The fires generally come from the east and the north and there is only one reasonably safe way out of Ramona from where I live, that is heading west on SR-67.
If you were to erect a median barrier down the center of SR-67 in our vicinity, that would require us to drive east, in all likelihood toward an oncoming fire, to make a U-turn somewhere so that we could retrace our steps and head west, back in the direction from which we originally came.
In the event of a fire, it is insane to be forced to drive closer to a fire in an effort to flee the fire. The time and traffic that adds to our journey could mean our lives! If we are forced to do something this outrageous (in the name of “safety,” no less), let this letter record the fact that the California Department of Transportation has been made aware of this problem and that we would hold the decision-making bodies responsible for any personal damage our family might experience due to delays in our evacuation/flight from fire because we were forced to initially drive toward the fire and away from safety and undergo increased traffic delays to turn around and head west to flee the fire.
I read with interest the Sept. 12, 2013, Ramona Sentinel article: “Planners debate pros, cons of SR-67 median barriers.” I note the comment that there are “about 60 driveways off 67 between Archie Moore Road and Highland Valley Road.” While Quail Rock Road is not a driveway, it services approximately a dozen driveways as the access point onto SR-67.
I could not agree more with RCPG Chair Jim Piva and his motion “requesting no barriers from Highland Valley Road west to Quail Rock Road.” Erecting a median barrier in that section of SR-67 would be a death wish for those of us living on the south side of SR-67 in the event of a major fire.
People have already experienced three-hour delays leaving Ramona on SR-67 while trying to get away from the major fires, and that is without the need to add U-turns or some other mechanism for folks on the south side of a barrier, forced to leave by heading east, to interrupt traffic heading west because they have to cross over in some barrier-free section to retrace their tracks and finally head west, away from the fire. This is, of course, a huge safety issue and likely to significantly slow departure from Ramona in the event of a major fire.
To date, the people of Ramona have behaved responsibly and allowed those of us heading west from the south side of SR-67 during evacuations to enter the traffic stream safely. Introducing barriers into the mix will decrease safety and increase traffic problems in the event of fire-related evacuations.
I ask of all individuals and government bodies deliberating these issues to please consider the safety of those people living on the south side of any barrier in the event of a major fire and mandatory evacuation from Ramona. Asking us to drive toward a fire during a mandatory evacuation is dangerous and potentially deadly.
Thank you for your consideration.
Danna Givot is a Ramona resident.