By David Anderson
On its way to the morgue, Tillicum takes a detour with a flicker-of-life new lane for I-5.
Vital signs: Backbone connectivity deterioration; critical lifeline threatened let alone curtailment of future growth and the latter only if delays in treatment are immediately addressed; congestion and clogging of arterials and choke points severe, experienced on average of 10 hours per day.
Behavior: Tipsy, if pushed past capacity; a distinct feeling of being overrun and lack of control; health diminished; purpose-and-missional lethargy; structurally deficient, movements inhibited and often curtailed – in fact becoming functionally obsolete accompanied by dropping on-time job performance and degradation of reliability also reflected in inadequate interfacing with others.
Prognosis: Malignantly terminal, should re-stabilization decisions be postponed.
Believe it or not, by far the bulk of the phrasing in the ‘medical report’ above comes from the Washington State Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) own assessment of Tillicum’s deteriorating condition as it relates to its neighboring parking lot also known as Interstate 5.
Scary to think that our community medical appraisal has reached morgue-like status, the result of our proximity to I-5: “Poor circulation and frequent congestion (the result) in the Tillicum neighborhood.”
But on Halloween, 2011, the morticians at WSDOT declared us basically DOA.
Their nightmarish portrayal can be found here.
Now, nearly two years later, in an effort to breathe new life into our otherwise vegetative state, WSDOT will close the shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 from Exit 123 (Thorne Lane) to Exit 122 (Berkeley Ave.) – in other words the entire length of Tillicum as it borders I-5 – from Sept. 4 to Dec. 1. for road construction.
You can read more about how to get from here to there during these three months by clicking here.
Tillicum, more specifically I-5, will get in affect ‘shoulder surgery’ allowing drivers to do what WSDOT calls “hard shoulder running.”
“Hard shoulder running,” according to WSDOT, accompanied by “Active Traffic Management Strategy (ATMS) and variable lane control will provide an additional lane during the peak period to improve capacity in congested corridors.”
That construction to relieve the congestion begins this month of September is welcome news given a recent poll that finds the number of drivers who say they feel road rage has doubled according to a September 1 report by Ashley Halsey III and Bonnie S. Berkowitz in The Washington Post.
With “hard shoulder running” slated to be completed Dec. 1 – just in time for those rushing somewhere for Christmas – made legal will be the numbers of drivers who refuse to merge politely and currently run the shoulder and, at the same time, assuaged will be the road rage of those irritated enough to occupy both lanes in an often failed effort to prevent shoulder running which attempt, in turn, is not received well by the person forced to either brake or, more often, plow up a bit of greenery to get by.
Halsey and Berkowitz describe an incident this past March in which two drivers confronted one-another over a desired lane change which caused the female driver to wave a knife at a male driver, who responded by brandishing a handgun.
As in the hand game “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” gun mostly beats knife. In the case above however, it was a tie. Fortunately, while no one was injured, both were charged.
Does make you wonder though that if a bar can be held responsible for injury caused by drunk patrons, can WSDOT be found negligent for conduct that falls below the standard for the protection of others against unreasonable risk of harm?
In other words, since road rage can be traced to congestion and alleviating congestion is the responsibility of the department of transportation, then might a lawsuit be in order against said agency for somebody who gave someone a particular hand expression which in turn escalated the expressway interchange such that an altercation occurred resulting in something more grievous – say a trip to the hospital instead of grandma’s house?
And at the very moment B.J. Thomas is singing “Somebody done somebody wrong song” on the exasperatee’s car radio?
And would that somebody include WSDOT?
Probably not. After all, WSDOT is evidently making a good faith effort to correct the congestion and de-escalate the possibilities for confrontation.
It is interesting though in motoring about WSDOT’s website that the bleak picture painted of Tillicum and environs – which picture paints a community with barely a bleep on the heart monitor and thus constitutes the agency’s appeal for funds – cannot be said to be likewise true of the so-called pressing need to run Amtrak trains through the same town.
Evidently when you have been guaranteed $89 million to have a town railroaded, no case – much less a desperate life-support plea-type case – needs to be made.