Half Of A Million Dollar Investment To Hold Death At Bay Along Hwy 62

The City of Twentynine Palms is set to spend more than half of a million dollars to install a traffic signal at the treacherous intersection of Lear Avenue and Twentynine Palms Highway.
Highway 62 – also known as Twentynine Palms Highway – is the major arterial through that portion of the Mojave Desert. The top legal speed on its remote stretches is 70 miles per hour. Many motorists on those extended journeys tend to move at a rate well beyond that. When they come into the populated sections along the highway – Morongo Valley, Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, they tend to reduce their speed, but in many cases insufficiently. Adding further to the formula for mayhem is that depending on the time of year at certain times of the day – roughly between the hours of 6 a.m. until 9 a.m., and again from 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. – the sun is positioned low enough toward the horizon to blind, in the morning, eastbound travelers, and, as afternoon recedes into evening, westbound travelers.
There have been numerous tangles of metal and flesh at or near the corner of Lear Avenue and Twentynine Palms Highway over the years.
On December 2, 2016, Samantha Reyes, 19, of Joshua Tree was killed and Edward Danny Sheetz, 50, of Rancho Cucamonga, was severely injured when they were involved in a head-on collision between Two Mile Road and Indian Trail around 6:10 a.m. Reyes was dead at the scene.
On February 18, 2009, Patrick Reed, 29, of Twentynine Palms was riding his motorcycle east on Highway 62 at about 65 miles per hour at 5:52 p.m. when he collided with a vehicle driven by Jason Robert Reyna of Twentynine Palms, who was making a turn from the highway onto Indian Cove Road. Reed died at the scene.
Collisions along the highway do not occur exclusively during daytime. On April 12, 2014, Lance Cpl. Cory Coumbes, 24, a rifleman stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms who was a passenger in a Kia Soul, was killed in a two-car collision at the intersection of Lear Avenue and Two Mile Road about 3 a.m. The Kia Soul was T-boned by a Honda Fit that ran a stop sign. Coumbes, who had recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, died at the scene.
In addition, there have been numerous accidents along the highway that have maimed, crippled or otherwise severely injured motorists.
The City of Twentynine Palms, having long contemplated installing signalization there, some time ago secured an easement for the placement of the traffic signal.
The Twentynine Palms City Council on June 29 gave city manager Frank Luckino clearance to finalize arrangements with Elecnor Belco Electric to erect a traffic signal at the intersection, authorizing the expenditure of $540,274 toward that end. That money will come from Measure I funding – the half-cent sales tax override earmarked for transportation projects that has been in place in San Bernardino County since 1989 – as well as from the State of California through CalTrans, the California Department of Transportation.
Luckino has met with the Elecnor Belco’s principals and engineers. The project will entail the use of poles that have been customized for the purpose and location. Preliminary specifications have been laid out during the preconstruction discussions.
It is anticipated that it will require up to three months to construct and install the poles. An issue when the installation begins will be ensuring that the impact on traffic flow and potential visual obstructions while the work is ongoing will not add to the traffic hazard.
In the meantime, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, which provides law enforcement services to the City of Twentynine Palms under a contractual arrangement, has stepped up speed limit enforcement along Twentynine Palms Highway. This has resulted in a reduction in the average speed of vehicles along that stretch, although occasional motorists yet race by in a blur reaching 60, 70 and even 80 miles an hour.
Another issue along Highway 62 is the lack of medians. This has resulted in drivers sometimes making unsafe passing of slower cars in front of them, cars drifting into oncoming lanes or drivers attempting make turns across the highway at inadvisable locations.

Leave a Reply