Back-Seat Driver

Which freeway has the most aggressive drivers?

Traffic creeps along northbound Interstate 5 south of Old Sacramento as motorists merge from westbound Highway 50, left, during an evening commute. Interstate 5 is the fourth-most dangerous highway in the United States, according to a report.
Traffic creeps along northbound Interstate 5 south of Old Sacramento as motorists merge from westbound Highway 50, left, during an evening commute. Interstate 5 is the fourth-most dangerous highway in the United States, according to a report. rpench@sacbee.com

Are there places on your freeway commute where, for some reason, drivers get ugly? Tailgating? Cutting in front of you? Not allowing you over even though you’re blinking?

The local CHP may soon want to know.

Each year, state highway officials pick out road safety hazards for special enforcement and some education: seat belt use (remember “Click It Or Ticket”?), texting while driving, drunk driving, motorcycle safety, pedestrian safety.

Now, the state is making $2 million available to attack a longstanding and sometimes overlooked but lethal problem: aggressive driving. State safety officials are leaving it up to local CHP offices to decide what problem areas to focus on.

Some aggressive driving is from road rage. Usually, though, it involves stressed, angry and harried drivers who also happen to be selfish. They believe they deserve to get ... wherever ... faster than you.

Is there a way to get the message out to just cool it? How will the CHP get bang for its buck? It may involve going out and talking to teens. It may mean putting up radar trailers that alert drivers that they are speeding. In many areas, though, it may mean sending CHP officers out to troublesome freeway sections.

The Sacramento Valley CHP office says it has not yet designated trouble spots it may spotlight. Any suggestions?

Walking to West Sac

The planned bridge over the Sacramento River between West Sacramento and the downtown Sacramento railyard is still a few years from reality, but the cities and state and federal partners already are negotiating over what the bridge will look like. (It will replace the I Street bridge, which will remain in place as a railroad bridge.)

The two cities want a low, flat bridge, with 15-foot-wide sidewalks, a bridge that can help remold the riverfronts into strollable places. Caltrans initially preferred six-foot sidewalks to save money. But the state’s bridge inspectors weighed in, in the city’s favor, city engineer Jesse Gothan said.

The wider sidewalks give them a place to park bridge inspection vehicles without interrupting traffic. The state has a big truck with an articulated arm and a bucket on the end that it lowers under the bridge belly so inspectors can check for cracks. The state recently had to use barges on the river to inspect the underside of the Tower Bridge. They don’t want to have to do that with the new bridge.

Next spring, the two cities may hold discussions of what the bridge might look like. Given the wide sidewalks, it might be nice to put in benches and overlook areas. There has been some talk of turning the I Street Bridge’s upper deck into something like Manhattan’s High Line park. Same goes for the new bridge. It could become our version of the Pont des Arts in Paris, where people would hang out, picnic, play music, do art, or just ponder the timeless nature of the river.

Walking in the rain

The Sacramento Kings recently announced they no longer are allowing people to bring umbrellas into Golden 1 Center. The reason, they say, is that umbrellas are messy and cumbersome and get in people’s way. (They also may be afraid angry fans will turn them into projectiles if refs make a bad call or an entertainer ends his concert after just two songs.)

The city has put signs up in downtown garages warning people to leave the umbrellas in the car before walking to the arena. A Kings spokesman said the team is looking into the possibility of offering umbrella check-in stations.

Umbrellas in other arenas? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. The Pittsburgh Penguins, for instance, allow only small umbrellas that can fit in purses, but reserve the right to ban them for any particular event.

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