During these recent dark and stormy nights, even lighted streets can sometimes seem dim.
Maybe my aging 33-year-old eyes are to blame, or it could be genetics (my family is littered with corrective vision needs), but seeing the lane lines and median curbs at night, and during rain, has become a task.
So, it’s especially troublesome when those white and yellow paint jobs have faded to their slate or tar foundations.
Such a problem caught the attention of Delores Mathers in Everett. In late September, she wrote to Street Smarts about “a dangerous intersection” at 112th Street Southwest and Highway 99 where the median curb separating northbound traffic turning left had lost its color.
“The divider has not been repainted in at least two years and is gray in color now, blending with the pavement color,” Mathers wrote. “On dark and/or rainy days it is nearly impossible to see. I have seen drivers turn into the left lane on southbound (Highway) 99 because the barrier can not be seen.”
She asked that it get painted.
After hearing about it from The Herald, the city of Everett Public Works Department seized a rare dry and sunny fall day and sent crews to paint it Nov. 2.
Sometimes the slow wheels of government get a jolt of WD-40. Call it an early yuletide-season gift from responsive government, and your local newspaper transportation columnist, to you, Delores.
Her memory about the last time that median curb saw a fresh coat could be correct. The city usually paints them on a two- or three-year cycle, sometimes more frequently depending on need and when people tell public works staff about problems, such as this instance.
Everett is responsible for that median curb and meant to paint it this summer. But the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent staffing cuts, as well as the need for dry weather, pushed it down the to-do list, city traffic engineer Corey Hert said in an email. The structural deficit, and city leaders’ attempts to lower it, meant public works didn’t hire seasonal workers who usually tackle summer tasks like median curb painting.
While that work was on hiatus, city crews tackled other fair-weather projects including long-line striping at crosswalks and stop lines and sign repair. Traffic control often is necessary during median curb tasks and takes longer because the infrastructure is sprayed with a hand cart instead of from a vehicle, city spokesperson Kathleen Baxter said.
Mathers appreciated seeing the bright yellow median curb Nov. 3.
“On such a rainy day today I was so grateful,” she wrote.
Everett doesn’t keep a list or schedule for curb maintenance. Instead, city staff note locations where work is needed when they see it. Or residents can bypass The Herald (though it is always nice to help connect people with their local government to resolve problems) and flag problems directly to city staff via an online form at https://bit.ly/2JWeXUw. Emergency issues with city streets can be called in to 425-257-8821.
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