Today God was watching over my little family unit. Mike was in a near-miss accident a bit before 8 AM this morning on Veterans Boulevard. He dropped Cheyenne off at school and was headed back home. From a small side street shortly before you reach I-94 a piece of construction machinery with a large platform on the front end of it pulled out and blocked the right lane of traffic that was traveling North on Veterans Boulevard. While the driver of the machinery stopped the cab portion at the corner before the intersection, he seemed oblivious to the blockage he was creating with the platform that extended in front of the machinery. This all happened as Mike was getting close to crossing the intersection. He made a hard stop which put his vehicle into a slide. His car, at just under five feet, slid under the platform (by the grace of God). Luckily other vehicles that were behind him were far enough back to stop without hitting each other, Mike, or the machinery. Mike was traveling at about 30 miles an hour based on his perception that the roads were a bit icy.
Mike was shaken by the experience. When he got out of his vehicle to ask the machinery driver what he was thinking, the driver said to Mike that he was driving too fast. The driver did not explain why he pulled out and blocked the lane and he did not apologize for doing so. If that platform had been any lower (Mike estimates it was just shy of six feet off the ground), Mike would have been critically injured or killed. If he had been driving the Sorento he would have also likely been critically injured or killed.
I am grateful that Mike was not hurt based on this machinery driver’s negligence, but I am angry that the driver created a life threatening hazard with no recognition of the cost his disregard could have had. I could have been having a very different day today because of the machinery driver’s actions. As I said, God was watching over us today.
This is what the machinery looked like except that where the prongs were on front there was a wood platform that extended out 15 to 20 feet. I don’t know much about heavy machinery like this, but I imagine there can only be so many folks who were driving one of these in the vicinity of Veteran’s Boulevard near I-94 a few minutes before 8 AM today. I hope that the employer of the driver that Mike encountered today learns about this incident and thinks twice about letting him operate this machinery on the roadways again. Mike called the West Fargo Police Department and gave them the information he had, but since the machinery had no individual business insignia on it they were not hopeful that they would locate it.
I know there is an awful lot of construction going on in close proximity to Veterans Boulevard. I see such vehicles regularly when I take and pick-up Cheyenne from school. But I think it is important to remember that Veterans Boulevard is becoming a well-traveled thoroughfare, particularly during the peak morning, lunch, and evening travel times – 7:30-8:30; 12-1; and, 5-6. These big machinery items already cause a bit of a hazard when they enter regular traffic, but when you add times of heavy traffic and less than ideal road conditions, the mix becomes increasingly dangerous. When you have someone who is either not paying attention or not appropriately trained in operating the machinery, the odds are increased that an incident the likes of which Mike encountered may happen. No regular vehicle will fare well in even a low speed impact accident with one of these pieces of machinery.
Perhaps it is time for West Fargo to consider some restrictions regarding when this type of machinery can be moved down or across main thoroughfares such as Veterans Boulevard. It does not strike me as all that unreasonable to ask construction crews to restrict their travel on streets during peak travel times. This would not dramatically impede construction operations and it could potentially save lives.
We were fortunate today, but who knows who may not be as fortunate. A regular vehicle and heavy machinery accident is a real possibility with the way things are on Veterans Boulevard presently. Why tempt fate? The City of West Fargo should put in some simple travel restriction ordinances over peak travel hours.
Day one thousand two hundred and sixty-five of the new forty – obla di obla da