Is it going to make a difference?
EXPECTATION VS. REALITY: Cone Barrier vs. K-Rail; What we have and what we need. | Photo by Kyle Headlee

Gilman Springs Highway, commonly referred to as Death Road or the Highway to Hell, is not because the road itself is dangerous, but some people who drive on it are. Presumably,
because they are driving intoxicated, tired, or in too much of a hurry, it seems like every couple days there is another accident on the highway, and many of them turn out to be fatal.

Some people get too impatient trying to get to work, get home, or get tired of looking at the same set of brake lights in front of them. No matter the reason, it is never an excuse to drive irresponsibly on any road or on that particular highway. With so many blind turns, there are very few safe places to pass on the road. Most of the highway is only two lanes with minimal shoulder area on either side. At some point, it is needed to sit back and think if is it better to show up fifteen minutes late or die 30 years early.

So what is being done about this? First of all, they installed a traffic light midway through the highway where Bridge street is. This security measure should help the people who are merging out of bridge street onto Gilman Springs. In the past, some people get impatient waiting for a legal opening and instead try to squeeze through a gap that was not ideal for the situation causing many opportunities for car accidents.

Personally speaking, I spent the better half of my construction career driving through that road at 3:00 in the morning, and coming through their after it got dark. It could be frustrating to being so close to home, yet it feels like it is so far away, but that does not make it worth it.

It seems that the community’s pleas were heard because they are adding a barrier in between the lanes now. Unfortunately, it is not the kind of barrier the community wants. It is what we call in the construction industry a false sense of safety. The nine-mile highway will get a center barrier of cones that should help guide distracted drivers and prevents them from crossing over to the other side. It is going to cost over 100k in materials but should take too long to perform.

The problem with these types of barriers is that they are only a visual deterrent. A drunk driver can easily still cross over to the other side of the road, causing severe accidents.
Ideally, the road needs an extension and a concrete barrier. This project sounds better than it is practical. In order to place a concrete barrier, the lanes would need to be nearly doubled what they are right now.

For that to take place, multiple pieces of private property will need to be purchased, and then there is the actual construction of the project. Even though it is not necessarily steep, still there are parts of the highway that have cliff type edges. Massive columns, stem decks, and bridges would have to be installed in order for the road to be widened and center medians installed. We are talking about a project that would cost millions of dollars and a couple of years to finish, having only two options to get out of town in that direction, Lambs Canyon or Ramona Expressway — talking about traffic issues.

In conclusion, all these options are possible, but are they logical? For sure, Things need to change on the highway, either a future construction, more police force, or people paying more attention to their surroundings.


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