Route 66 full of dangers
For country singer Rascal Flatts, "Life is a Highway," but for thousands of High Desert residents, the storied Rte. 66 National Trails Highway is a lifeline fraught with dangers. At least it was on Sept. 15, 2010 when crash victims were airlifted after sustaining major injuries from a head-on collision near Robinson Ranch Road. Four months earlier, just north of Indian Trail, another head-on proved fatal for a 35-year-old Helendale woman.
This two-lane narrow road between Barstow and Victorville, filled with deep dips, severe curves, and narrow shoulders, has experienced little of the fast lane of change. Eighty-five years after its initial alignment, the vehicles it transports are bigger and faster than any it was ever designed to carry. This perfect storm convergence of cars, SUVs, pick-ups, recreational vehicles, school busses, and 18-wheelers make it one of the most dangerous roadways in the mind-numbing sameness of San Bernardino County's vast Mojave Desert.
From personal experience, other hazards, such as cement trucks, can launch projectiles of stones and chunks of concrete. On the morning of August 18, just south of Bryman Road, one of these lumbering giants pummeled my driver's side windshield, narrowly missing my head but leaving a hole the size of a small fist. Rather than being a responsible good neighbor, they skirted all responsibility for damages.
With summer's sizzle fading in our rearview mirrors, we now cruise past the reincarnated saloon that entices motorists with Happy Hour signs. But it isn't the only Oro Grande establishment back in session. More than 1,800 youngsters currently attend Riverside Preparatory School, bringing hundreds more rushing vehicles up and down our stretch of the Mother Road.
Sure, we might all have different destinations, but there's one thing everyone wants — a safe arrival. With scant little road improvements or public transportation on the horizon for National Trails Highway, it is essential that drivers stop using Rte. 66 as their personal autobahn, never pass illegally, become more responsible, and find a designated driver when intoxicated.
BJ Kouba, Helendale