Many of us have been caught over the past eight weeks in the closures of the U.S. Highway 101 bridge over Youngs Bay. The closure at about 6 p.m. on July 23 caused by a vehicle collision was the first of a series of three or four.
Our police agencies don't know how many closures there have been. They don't keep records. That simple fact is emblematic of their lack of preparedness for incidents that have lately become a common inconvenience for North Coast drivers.
Sandra Swain's Sept. 6 front-page article noted that Astoria and Warrenton police departments are already spread thin. Thus whoever gets to the accident first takes charge. No doubt, most of us would understand that rationale.
For the drivers stuck behind the accident, however, there seems to be no law enforcement recognition of a side effect of these closures. When the Youngs Bay Bridge is closed, there is suddenly intense congestion on Old Highway 101, most specifically where it empties on to U.S. Highway 101 in Warrenton, as it becomes an arterial. Desperately needed at that intersection is a traffic policeman, to insure that the miles-long back-up on Old Highway 101 keeps moving.
If Warrenton officers aren't available for that task, why not the Sheriff's Department?
None of us cares how the situation is handled or who handles it. What we begrudge is the sense that law enforcement has no plan. Now that Youngs Bay Bridge closures have become more commonplace, why not have some inter-departmental conversations about how to make traffic flow easier on the alternative routes?