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Voice: Real Forrester/Center alternatives need to be considered

May 03, 2002

After reading your opinion about Center Street, I began to wonder why there was never a similar response to a letter written to you several years ago about the commercial traffic using Forrester Road, the only road traveling north and south on the west side of the Valley.

At that time it was mentioned how our county planners along with Caltrans have failed to build and improve our roads to meet the future needs most of which came as a result of increased commerce around the border.

The Brawley bypass (a plan Caltrans has been promising for nearly 30 years) would take a majority of the truck traffic off of Center Street. But when? Excessive traffic will continue to pass through Westmorland on Highway 86 expansion. This puts school kids crossing twice daily in jeopardy and a proposed bridge won't work. However, maybe a lighted tunnel would.

By rejecting a bypass of Westmorland those few people just postponed the inevitable. Someday it will have to go around or they will remove businesses and homes to widen it instead.

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Now we find ourselves suffering the consequences of living near roads more congested than they were designed for. Instead of safe roads away from major populated areas we live with high volumes of traffic going directly through Brawley and Westmorland.

People say, "That's progress!" That's not progress! Progress is building new roads that offer adequate surface area to accommodate our growing traffic needs, roads that are directed away from the major residential areas where school buses and slow agricultural traffic can operate safely.

Commercial traffic wants to travel neither east nor west but north to L.A. Because of this every north/south road in the Valley is congested, whether it is Highway 111 or Dogwood Road, Highway 86 or Forrester. Forrester is just the only road without any delays until one gets to Westmorland. Truckers don't even want to stop there, so they try to make the turn just south of town, tearing down roadside utility poles to do it.

So why has there never been a proposal to build a four-lane road connecting Interstate 8 at the Dunaway Road exit with Highway 86 near the Border Patrol station northwest of Westmorland? No bridges to build over canals, no farmland to pave over and no homes to remove. Why? It comes down to poor planning, the fact that pedestrian safety is never considered and that traffic in the Imperial Valley is just not a priority to those in Sacramento.

I remember a time when a young boy walked his dogs on Forrester Road without the fear of being blown down by a speeding truck. I'm probably dreaming. However, I see that day again if those who plan for our futures would only consider people's safety first, not just business as usual. I don't think that's asking for much!

LANCE BURFIELD

Holtville

(Longtime Forrester Road resident)

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