As you read this, we who live in the North County may have already been redirected to drive on the “new” Highway 46 between Airport Road and Geneseo Road, east of Paso Robles.
I have driven this section of the state highway for 42 years and commuted daily for 31 of those years. I think we are headed into the most dangerous situation that has existed in all those years and I hope no one has perished before this has even been published.
Our state engineers are about to send all traffic onto a section of roadway designed for one-way traffic, which would preclude the need for a shoulder in the “fast lane.” Unfortunately, that lane will be dedicated to all westbound traffic for the next several months, if not all of 2010.
This will mean that the only choice to avoid any oncoming traffic or disabled vehicle will require that we swerve from the pavement onto a fragile and incomplete dirt/mud bank, which in some areas consists of drainage or a steep drop-off due to “updated” road designs. We will also be using inadequate turn lanes to access temporary intersections that would be laughable if they were not so dangerous.
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The new section is several feet higher or lower than the old — and actually safer — roadway so that it complies with new codes but makes no common sense. I can only hope that those of us that are expected to use this temporary path to and from our homes, jobs and avocations can realize that we must slow down, leave our competitive and aggressive driving techniques elsewhere and work together to ensure that as few good people as possible are injured, maimed or killed over the next several months.
Also, I hope that as people experience this, they realize that the contractor and state highway patrol did not “engineer” this and are not at fault and accord their people as much respect as possible as we hopefully move toward the goal envisioned by so many who have tried to “Fix 46.”
Pray for all of us. Creighton MacDonald lives in Paso Robles and has commuted daily on Highway 46 for 31 years.