A lot has been written, spoken, tweeted, Facebooked — you name it — over many years about the quality of drivers in Amarillo and the engineering of some of the traffic infrastructure around town.
I found a location this morning that deserves some comment here.
I hauled some goods to the Salvation Army warehouse and store about 11 a.m. The warehouse/store is at 27th Avenue just a little east of Llano Cemetery. I dropped the stuff off and headed west toward Interstate 27; I turned north to catch the freeway toward downtown.
I then discovered something that had gotten past me the many times I’ve driven along that stretch of road: The on-ramp is very short and is located quite close to a lane in which the motorists all have to exit the freeway to catch another on-ramp toward Interstate 40.
The traffic was heavy at that particular moment. I was driving my big Dodge pickup, aka Big Jake. I had to come to a complete stop on the on-ramp, as traffic was not yielding, meaning no one was moving into an inside lane to give me room.
Why is that? Well, they had to stay in that lane to connect to I-40. Therefore, I understand why they couldn’t yield to little ol’ me.
I waited for what seemed like an eternity for a break in the traffic. When one occurred, I had to pounce on the accelerator to get enough speed to merge into the traffic that was approaching. I didn’t want to get in anyone’s way as they (a) headed toward downtown or (b) sought to make the exit onto I-40.
As I was stopped at the intersection, I thought of my wife. Yes, I love her dearly and I think of her often, but this time I recalled a terrible accident in which she was rear-ended by a driver while — yep — she waited on an on-ramp to merge into traffic. That was nearly a year ago. She was quite lucky she wasn’t hurt more badly than she was — or worse. That on-ramp, just west of Georgia Street, merges into the westbound I-40 lanes. It, too, provides little time or space for vehicles to merge. She had to stop because the traffic was too heavy. Then she got clobbered — by an individual traveling at an estimated 60 mph.
I’m wondering at this moment if it isn’t time for the Texas Department of Transportation and the Amarillo Traffic Engineering Department to do a comprehensive study of the safety of some of these access lanes and on-ramps to determine what they can do to improve them.