05/03/2012: "-- Guest Column --"
By Peg Manning
The County Department of Public Works has applied for funding (a total of $600,000) for something entitled “Roadside Hazard Mitigation Program,” whose stated purpose is to “identify and systematically mitigate . . . roadside hazards”-- trees, ditches, water and steep embankments
In other words, in addition to more ugly guardrails, we can look forward to the County “mitigating” the dangers posed by the very large old trees that line our roadways, as well as modifying other elements of the traditional landscape, including boulders.
Why? Because there is grant money available? Public Works claims that “by removing, signing and/or modifying these elements, the injury rate and/or severity may be reduced in vehicular crashes.”
That is unlikely, based on insurance institute studies, but Public Works seems intent on turning our rural county into an engineer’s dream -paved and guardrailed, like something out of Everett. The County’s list of fatalities submitted with the grant application shows that the overwhelming majority of injury accidents are caused by DUI, and almost all of the rest are caused by excessive speed. (One wonders how many sheriff deputies this amount of money would support to remove drunk and speeding drivers from our roads.)
How many trees will we lose in a futile effort to protect these drivers? So far as we can tell, if there’s a tree within five feet of the road, it’s at risk. Ask County Council to discuss and reject this part of Public Works’ 6 Year Transportation Plan.