I was driving north on the Old Island Highway in Willow Point when I heard the sirens coming towards me.
I was momentarily overcome with the urge to pull over as required for a passing emergency vehicle but this was at the portion of the highway that was rebuilt and so there was a median between me and the southbound fire truck. Pulling over would have been a waste of time unless the truck was going to jump the median to progress down my lane. But am I still required to pull over? I slowed down and eased over, feeling a bit foolish but mostly confused.
Then I realized this was my opportunity to witness the fire truck passing a vehicle in the same lane, proving in a real-life situation, the city’s claim that the roadway was wide enough for emergency vehicles to negotiate that stretch of road when it contained traffic. I wanted to see a fire truck get around somebody in a median-constrained stretch of the road.
Unfortunately, the traffic kept progressing past me as did the fire truck so if there was a moment of constraint caused by the narrowness of the road, I was going to miss it. So, I pulled back into my lane and continued uptown.
I have always said that the chances of a fire truck-traffic encounter on that stretch of road would be pretty low. I mean, how often is the Old Island Highway congested with traffic these days? And how often is there traffic and an emergency call on that stretch of the road? Pretty rare.
But there was my opportunity that night. Not that the traffic was heavy. It barely qualified as traffic but there were one or two vehicles travelling in the same lane as the fire truck. Obviously, no mishap occurred.
But remember all the kerfuffle as the city’s armchair engineers pointed out with glee what they considered a design blunder? The city eventually proved that emergency vehicles could get around a vehicle in the space between the concrete median and the new sidewalk.
Well, we learn once again of another design flaw in our city streets, this time the new corner of Shopper’s Row and St. Ann’s Road. It appears the bulging corner is forcing buses to pull a buttonhook manoeuvre to turn right from Shoppers Row onto St. Ann’s. A buttonhook is a trucker’s move whereby they swing from the right turn lane into the centre lane in order to negotiate the corner without the trailer jumping the curb and taking out a light post, mail box, a couple of pedestrians and maybe a business sign.
Now we’re faced with sitting in the left turn lane on St. Ann’s and watching a transit bus swinging wide and seemingly straight into the front end of your late model Toyota Corolla before it tucks in at the last second and heads up St. Ann’s.
Why does every new traffic facility have to generate a controversy? Is there no computer simulation software out there that allows civic engineers to test these street parameters? It always ends up looking like something was overlooked.
And after all that money being spent, you’d think…