SEE THE LIGHT YET IN SOUTH LA GRANDE?

November 17, 2002 11:00 pm

If the new Oregon National Guard Armory/Blue Mountain Conference Center on 12th Street didn't increase traffic significantly in south La Grande, the state-owned Integrated Services Building a couple blocks away will have more impact.

State agencies, formerly housed in the state office building on Adams Avenue, have been moving into the large building over the past couple of weeks. The facility will provide one-stop service for clients requiring contact with one or more state social services agencies.

Look what can now be found near the corner of 12th Street and Gekeler Lane: a large retirement apartment complex, the armory/conference center, the La Grande Stake of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Lutheran church, a popular convenience store, the main 12th Street feeder route from the Sunnyhills II and Highland Hills subdivisions — and now the Integrated Services Building.

How long will it be before a four-way stop is required at 12th and Gekeler? City and state officials should study this busy intersection over the next few months to see if a four-way stop is needed.

DEFUSE THE BOMB

When a person sees a ticking time bomb, he calls out experts to try to get it defused before it explodes. Well, the intersection of Pierce Road and Highway 237 just east of Island City is just such a ticking time bomb. The pickup truck going 55 miles per hour, or more, that raced through the stop sign at the intersection a few days ago was sending a clear signal: Something needs to be done before a fatal accident occurs at this dangerous intersection.

While funding for such projects is admittedly limited, community concern is growing that the public safety be protected. The county commissioners including the new one should note that the solution need not be as expensive as installing overhead traffic lights. Something as simple as flashing lights on Pierce Road north and south, as those installed several years ago at another dangerous intersection, Hunter and Booth, should do the job.

As the area continues to grow, and as more industry locates in that end of town, the problem will only get worse. Now the intersection has lots of traffic at certain times of days as shifts come and go at the factories located north and south. At other times of the day, the traffic is light, but to the uninitiated the stop signs are difficult to see after cruising along at 55 mph, or more, for a significant distance across the prairie.

The bottom line is this: the county commissioners should make installing warning lights at Pierce Road and Highway 237 a top priority on their traffic agenda. The time to act is now, before the bomb explosion of a fatality gets our attention in a less pleasant way.