Originally created 05/02/00

Center traffic blamed for accidents



I have come to realize in the past three weeks that God must be protecting me for a very special reason. Otherwise, I would be lying in state because of traffic at the new Pilot Travel Center on the River Watch Parkway.

As a daily traveler of River Watch, I see how dangerous the rig and trailer drivers are becoming as they dart out in front of traffic moving through the intersection near River Watch and Claussen Road.

As the travel center's population matures, the rig drivers must be learning it takes longer for the traffic to clear in order for them to proceed safely. So, instead of being patient, they are beginning to take "grave" chances to force vehicles to stop in order to let them into the traffic.

The first incident involved a crash between a flatbed truck and a car. With no law enforcement in sight, the rig driver just held up his hands in mid-air as though it was the car driver's fault that he hit it. Broken glass and blood were everywhere. The rig clearly was at fault to those of us who witnessed the crash.

At the second incident I witnessed that week, I was the second car that was nearly "creamed" as a rig came barreling out of the travel center.

Just one week later, at the same place, another rig never even stopped to check the traffic flow. He simply "challenged" us with his 18-wheeler to stop so he could proceed.

Public participation (in road planning) in the Augusta area is a travesty. I imagine that when public meetings on improving Phase II of River Watch were conducted a few years ago, there was nothing on the drawing boards that would have allowed for such a dangerous condition to exist as does now at the Pilot Travel Center.

Now that Phase III is under consideration, it is just a matter of time and money before some organization (or travel center) greases the pockets of local officials to get a lucky spot along a busy highway, originally designed to reduce accidents.

As long as rig drivers continue to take traffic laws into their own hands, those of us who appreciate the beauty and convenience of River Watch Parkway will need to begin long-range funeral planning ... What a horrible way to go.

Helen P. Villasor, Augusta