Today, Tuesday, I was driving back to Half Moon Bay on Highway 92 at 1 p.m. when it became clear that something bad had happened. (The all too familiar signs: No visible traffic heading east and traffic heading west was stopped.)
Obnoxious delays on Highway 92 are almost a daily occurrence– but wouldnât it have helped me, the commuter, the driver, to see a sign along the road advising me what had happened and how long it would take to clear up. Especially during this very difficult time when Devil’s Slide is closed and the entire Coastside is dependent on one little road.
âAccident, Tow Truck, Road Closed, Minor Injury, Serious Injury Accidentâ?âimportant, possibly life-saving words that alert me the driver so that I can make a rational decision based on valid, current information. A decision to proceed, turn back, make a call to my loved ones, that kind of a decision.
(Occasionally, I’ve seen a sign lit up on the San Mateo side of Highway 92–but not lately)
And no signs today.
Thankfully, the delay wasnât due to a major accident. I âthinkâ? a car died and was dragged to the side of the road. I say âI thinkâ? only because I saw a car and a tow truck pulled off to the side.
It was much worse last Saturday when Highway 92 was temporarily closed for several hours–and a sign alerting me of the accident (on the Half Moon Bay side) would have caused me to turn around before I ended up locked into a knot of traffic half way up the mountain which eventually caused my engine to overheat.
Had I known a mile earlier, I would have had the option of turning around, and I would have returned homeâor decided to sweat it out in the line. At least Iâd know what had happened and Iâd have options.
But I had no options and there was no sign alerting me of what lay ahead. I didnât know the severity of the problem until I turned on the radio and was told an oil tanker flipped over on 92. An oil tanker tipping over is a very scary thing. For me, the driver, being unable to move forward, backward or sideways while knowing that an oil tanker is lying on its side not far from me (ready to explode?) strikes fear in my heart.
You see, half way up that mountain you can’t turn around–there’s a concrete barrier in the middle of the road. You’re stuck. God forbid, if there’s a raging Coastside-Oakland Hills type fire (how will county fire trucks get to us using only one congested road?) or an earthquake?
Of course, it turned out that the radio news report was wrong. But I didnât know that for another hour, when I moved the fifty car lengths and reached the top of the mountain where a friendly California Highway Patrolman set me straight; itâs a water truck, he said, not an oil tanker.
Iâm calling for signs on Highway 92, alerting the commuter, the driver, the visitor, what has happened when there are delays and how long the delays are expected to last.