mountainecho.com

February 18, 2014

Editorial

Filed under: Uncategorized — waltblog @ 9:58 am

Anyone who’s reached adulthood knows that crap happens. A typical example of this is illustrated by last week’s editorial and the chain reaction it caused.
I have always had good luck talking with Caltrans public affairs but I haven’t been so fortunate talking to a variety of other department personnel over the years.
Like many folks who contact people by e-mail, I grab a previous email in my file and respond to it. I’d never had a problem before.
Thus when a friend who also drives Highway 299 between Burney and Fall River Mills complained bitterly about the rumble strips, it raised the question and I decided to get the answer, especially when he told me he had been in contact with someone there and they’d consistently not answered his emails.
I contacted Trisha at Caltrans public affairs, using my lazy system of responding to her last email. She responded immediately telling me I needed to talk to Rob Stinger, chief of Engineering and Operations. She said he was out of his office and would return the following Monday. She also said she had forwarded my inquiry to him and that he was good about answering such inquiries. That was in October.
I remembered it for a couple of weeks, figuring I’d give him time to get back to me. He didn’t and I forgot about the issue.
A couple of weeks ago I ran into my friend again and it jogged my memory. He still hadn’t heard anything.
I figured okay, if he won’t answer me, I’ll see if he’ll answer my reader’s concerns.
 Here’s what has transpired since.
The offending editorial
RUMBLE STRIPS AT INTERSECTION OF HIGHWAY 89/299 INTERSECTION?
Many drivers, including commercial drivers drive onto the shoulder of the road to avoid the areas with cuts across the traffic lanes. Those cuts predate the traffic signals at the intersection and Highway Patrol officers have pulled drivers over because of it.
Popular belief is that they were put in to promote safety, (wake people up) before the intersection.
Also locals believe the cuts are excessively intrusive, can damage cargo and damage equipment being towed. They certainly don’t do vehicles any good and do little if anything to promote safety.
I inquired to Caltrans. My inquiry was shuffled upstairs and the promise to get back to me was broken.
At least one other area resident has made numerous calls trying to get answers and they have gone unanswered.
In other words we’ve been stonewalled. My understanding is that Rob Stinger who is in charge of traffic operations at Region II in Redding is the go to man. His direct e-mail is Rob. stinger @dot.ca.gov
His phone number is 225-3229.
It strikes me that if the individual gets enough calls and e-mails he might take another look at the strip issue, maybe even reduce them to the cuts they use on the side of some roads. Makes a similar noise without tearing the vehicles apart.
It has to be a better start than writing our elected state officials and the head folks of Caltrans.
I’m not out to cut any life saving safety measure. It is simply my belief that it has been superceded by more advanced measures that are in place and working.
If he can show me where I’m wrong I’ll be happy to back off – Just don’t stonewall me or anyone else.
I got Mr Stinger’s email address screwed up as it originally appeared in the edtorial. I’ve now corrected the one above anyone who would like to contact him can do so. Anyway Don Smith, a faithful reader and owner of a motor home tried to respond and couldn’t because of the errors in the address, so he brought it in, I found out the problem and sent it to Stinger for him.
Mr. Stinger replied to my email thinking it was Don’s email address and thus I received his reply
Dear Sir: I read with interest Mr. Caldwell’s editorial in the Mountain Echo about the confounded rumble strips which I try to avoid whenever I can; not knowing it was illegal. I must agree with Mr. Caldwell because whenever I go over them in my car or motorhome is shakes the dickens out of everything and I believe, unnecessarily. It seems, if you must have something there instead of the god awful ones you have now, you might replace them with something less intrusive. Thank you for taking time to read this message and I implore you to please fix the problem.
Thank you, Donald F. Smith, McArthur CA
Mr. Stinger’s reply to Mr. Smith which I am forwarding to Mr. Smith

Hello Mr. Smith. Thank you for your email. I read Mr. Caldwell’s editorial and was surprised to read his claims of being “stonewalled”. Since last summer, I have received several calls about the rumble bars at the SR-89/299 intersection and have always made an effort to talk directly with the person voicing the concern. I do not recall ever being contacted by Mr. Caldwell. Our Public Information Office has had regular contact with Mr. Caldwell over the years and was curious why he had not contacted them directly if he felt he was being ignored. Perhaps it gives the editorial more impact if it is perceived that the government is not responsive to its citizens.
As for the intersection, we are well aware of the “rough ride” issues. The rumble bars were originally installed many years ago to address accidents that were occurring at the intersection. The recessed grooves and white stripes were meant to alert drivers that they are approaching a stop sign. When they were originally placed, the vibration and noise from the bars was not as pronounced as it is now. We think that the paving and chip seal projects that have come through the intersection over the years (and replaced the rumble bars) has actually resulted in a rougher ride.
Unfortunately, there is not a quick and inexpensive fix. Since there are no construction projects coming through the area in the near future that could address the problem, we are looking into options that can be performed with state forces. We have been having discussions with our Burney Maintenance Crew and are closing in on a fix… but even if the numbers pencil out, it may take a couple months to implement depending on material and equipment availability, and of course, the weather.
Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions, feel free to send me an email or give me a call.
Rob Stinger, P.E. Chief – Traffic Engineering & Operations Caltrans District 2
I also received a phone call from Trisha and an email. She had inadvertently filed my email under the topic of her email and not my request – thus the inadvertent “stonewalling.”

Hi Walt: Here are the conversations from back in October. Again, my sincere apologies for not getting Rob’s response back to you. Like I said on the phone, he really is wonderful about returning calls and emails right away which made it hard for us to understand what may have happened. I spoke with him personally and he explained the situation to me, as stated below. But, he will keep me updated on the progress of this and I PROMISE to keep you informed. Again, I really am sorry for letting this one get away from me. Please feel free to call me at any time if you have a concern and I will do my best to provide you with a speedy answer!
Have a great weekend.

I have no problem in telling Mr. Stinger I’m sorry and that it isn’t Trisha’s fault, hopefully the whole affair will be filed under oops! The rumble strips will be toned down or disappear and I promise to check before I write.

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