KMIR6 Investigates Deadly Roads
PALM SPRINGS- It's the wide open spaces and dark desert night skies that attract so many people to the Coachella Valley. But as the population grows and tourism booms, streches of roadway still have no lights or marked crosswalks., leaving some pede Video by kmir6.com
PALM SPRINGS- It's the wide open spaces and dark desert night skies that attract so many people to the Coachella Valley. But as the population grows and tourism booms, streches of roadway still have no lights or marked crosswalks, leaving some pedestrians taking dangerous steps.
From 2009 to 2012, cars killed 31 pedestrians on Coachella Valley roadways, according to the California Highway Patrol.
"It just seems like an unfortunate thing that's happening that doesnt need to happen," said Rick Seidner, who has seen pedestrian dangers from his resturant window for 25 years.
On Palm Canyon Drive, between Raquet Club and Vista Chino there's no marked crosswalks or lights.
"You see people walking across here all the time. All the time and at this point I don't want them to cross the street to come to eat, you know it's not the right thing to say about my own business, but it's just too dangerous," said Seidner.
In 2012 a car hit an elderly couple crossing the street at night, killing the couple. The driver never saw them.
We rolled our camera to see just how dangerous the road is.
Kids, adults, most every pedestrian we see takes the risk. Some pedestrians walk right into oncoming traffic. Most pedestrians, though, cross the street at the unmarked intersection where via Escuela and North Palm Canyon meet.
According to California law, it's not considered J-walking to cross at an unmarked intersection. Pedestrians have the right of way at an unmarked intersection, but that doesn't always mean it's safe.
We see pedestrian after pedestrian racing across the street, and drivers don't seem to mind.
"They whip around the corner here going 45 miles per hour, which is the speed limit, but if they had to stop there's no way they could do it," said Rick Seidner restaurant owner.
Seidner has had enough and he's asking the city to use Measure J funds to install a cross walk with flashing lights.
"We try to balance the night skies with the safety and it's something we work very hard at," said David Ready, Palm Springs City Manager.
But there's a roadblock. The stretch of Highway 111 isn't under Palm Springs jurisdiction, it's under Cal Trans.
"We cannot even put a light there because that's Cal Trans jurisdiction," Ready.
But according to Cal Trans officials, the state agency doesn't install street lights unless it corresponds with a traffic signal. It turns out, 107 pedestrians would have to cross the street and hour to warrant a traffic signal, according to Cal trans.
In the hour we had our cameras rolling 11 people crossed the street--- not nearly enough.
"The highway itself is safe, what I see is people making unsafe decisions, and following through on unsafe acts," said Shelli Lambardo, Cal Trans Spokesperson.
Cal Trans officials say if Palm Springs wanted to install lights or a crosswalk, the city could go to Cal Trans to initiate the project, but it could take years before anything gets done.
"People think we can just go in and paint a cross walk and it's not that simple," said Lambardo.
There's state requirements and funding needs to be secured. But Seidner just hopes pedestrian safety isn't pushed down road.
Cal Trans officials say they listen to public concerns, and public complaints could speed up the process to get crosswalks. If you have a concern, contact Cal Trans District 8 Public Affairs at 866.383.4631 or 909.383.4631.
-Jessica Flores, KMIR6 News.