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Dock Grade Strikes Again

Editorial for Sept. 11, 2008

How many wrecks will there be before the Washington Department of Transportation puts in a stoplight at the intersection of Dock Grade Road and State Route 14?

We've lost track of the number of serious accidents we've reported on at that intersection, and on Thursday, Sept. 4, there was yet another bad one. Three people ended up in the hospital.

The biggest problem seems to be that motorists waiting at the bottom of Dock Grade often have their vision blocked by vehicles turning onto Dock Grade from SR 14. The car that is turning can completely block the view of a car that is in the westbound lane and coming fast. By the time a driver pulls out from Dock Grade and sees the westbounder, it's almost always too late for anyone to avoid a collision. We've seen this time after time after time.

The Enterprise has warned of the situation there. Members of the White Salmon City Council have requested action about it. Law enforcement officials and emergency responders are very familiar with the location.

But nothing has been done.

The Washington Department of Transportation keeps track of the number of accidents at dangerous sites around the state and tries to fix the worst ones. Apparently, there have not yet been enough wrecks to get the WDOT to do something to solve the problem at Dock Grade and SR 14. That's unacceptable.

The WDOT is not solely responsible here. The Washington Legislature has to shoulder responsibility as well, because the WDOT managers can only tackle safety issues based on how much funding is in the department's budget. The more money on hand, the more projects on their priority list they can address.

The bottom line is, this intersection clearly presents an unnecessary risk to motorists in this community. It is time for action, because it is just a matter of when -- not if -- there is a fatality at this location. It doesn't have to happen, and we shouldn't have to wait for that type of tragedy before the WDOT does what it can to pro-actively solve the problem.

Fixing this particular hazard would be relatively simple: A stoplight is needed at the intersection. Yes, that costs a bit of money -- the estimate is between $350,000-$500,000. It's a bargain at the price.

We urge the Washington Department of Transportation to cut through the bureaucratic process and get a stoplight at this intersection as swiftly as possible -- before our community has to deal with the tragic aftermath of any more collisions there.

JB

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