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Blind corners

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By Jamie Grabert

On a daily basis, we hear the sound of tires screeching on the pavement outside our office. It isn’t a person on a bicycle. It’s a vehicle, trying to keep from slamming into another vehicle.

It isn’t uncommon for the screech to be followed by the sound of metal clashing with metal. An accident has just happened. I’m usually the first one out the door, asking one of my co-workers to call dispatch and inform them of the wreck.

For those of you who don’t know where we’re located, it’s the intersection of Second and Walnut Streets. Now, I can just imagine you nodding your head. Now, you understand why we hear the screech, bang, boom sounds. It’s a blind corner on three sides.

This is one of the busiest intersections in town that isn’t on a main thoroughfare. Since Second Street is what used to be Old Highway 62, we see a lot of traffic from local industries, especially in the morning and late afternoon hours.

Local people know that once they stop at Second and Walnut, they don’t have to stop again until Second intersects with Canal Street. So, they treat it like a drag strip. Many cars will easily hit 40 mph before they even get to our end of the block. The speed limit may be 30, but there is no enforcement of that law. No one sits and clocks traffic. No one acts remotely concerned until there’s an accident of significance there.

There have been accidents there that should catch the city officials’ attention. Want some examples? How about a school bus hitting a car because the car attempted to cross Second Street and couldn’t see the bus, so they tried to crossed blindly? How about an eight-month pregnant mother creeping out into the intersection when a truck traveling in excess of 40 struck her minivan that also had her two small children in it, while they were setting up for River Days?

How about a four-car crash that results in property damage to a local business? How many more examples would you like? Is it going to take a serious injury or death before action is taken?

My staff and I have approached the city numerous times. They tell me to call this person, who tells me to talk to that person. By now, I’m just getting the run around, and I’m beyond frustrated. I talk to the police officers and firefighters who respond, and they agree a stop sign is needed. I called former Mayor John Tucker, who told me he agreed and wouldn’t block a measure for a stop sign, but wouldn’t be the one to bring it up. I left messages for former City Councilman Brian Jeffries, who never called me back. So, you throw up your hands and figure you’ll just be ready to call Posey Dispatch when the next incident occurs.

Some people think there are enough stop signs in town. I submit they don’t hear the screech and crash that we do. Their days aren’t interrupted by accidents. We don’t enjoy those photos or bylines.

Most people who frequently travel these streets will agree that a four-way stop is needed at Second and Walnut. Taking out one parking place isn’t going to fix the problem of a car having to creep out into the intersection to see. You still have trucks and SUVs. Yes, there’s a city lot down the block, and we often park there, but those that are stopping by to conduct business with us or others in the area should be able to park near the entrances.

During River Days, we demand a four-way stop. Max knows the call is coming Friday morning about a sign, and usually sends out the truck with the sign all ready to place in the intersection before we hang up the phone. You know what? There weren’t any crashes last year at the intersection of Second and Walnut. No one complained, and traffic flowed just fine. Common sense would tell you, “Huh, maybe we need to make this a permanent thing.” But I’m just speculating on that.

At last week’s city council meeting, the city discussed the intersection of Second and Walnut. I understand that a traffic count and speed checker will be installed soon. But I submit this – public safety can’t just be about traffic counts and how fast people are going. Let’s get this right before someone is critically injured.