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For the week of July 26 through August 1, 2000

Fatal intersection

Residents call for more traffic control along Bullion Street corridor

All three of the women have similar ideas about how to make Bullion a safer road: more stop signs, speed bumps, police presence and another stop light on Main Street.

Express Staff Writer

"It was just a matter of time."

The observation was made repeatedly to Mountain Express reporters by Hailey residents who live near the intersection of Bullion Street and Second Avenue, where 9-year-old Cody Boyd was killed on the morning of July 12.

To get a better understanding of what this meant, a reporter interviewed three Hailey residents for their observations on the busy three block length of Bullion Street from Third Avenue to the traffic light on Main Street.

Lisa Uhrig lives with her husband Curtis and their three daughters, ages 2, 7 and 9, at the intersection of Third Avenue and Bullion.

Lucy Hickey lives with her husband, Tom, and son, Chad, 17, at the same intersection.

Martha Burke lives between Second and Third avenues on Bullion. She is a Hailey councilwoman.

"I am just surprised it hasn’t happened sooner or more often," Uhrig said. She was referring to children on bicycles getting killed in traffic accidents.

The intersection she lives on has the only stop sign on Bullion between the traffic light and the stop sign at the intersection of Bullion and Croy. She said drivers run the stop sign all the time on their way to Main.

"Just now, looking out the window," she said as she was being interviewed at her home, "I saw someone run the stop sign."

She said, "half the time the stop sign might as well not be there."

Hickey added, "There is nothing to slow traffic from Deerfield to Third. Nothing." She thinks that a stop sign on Bullion at Fourth Avenue would help slow traffic coming into the stop sign at Third.

And the problem is not just drivers running the stop sign, says Uhrig. She said people driving north and south on Third often go through the intersection at what she perceives to be about 45 miles an hour. The speed limit is 25 miles an hour.

Burke, who lives closer to the intersection of Bullion and Second, where Boyd was killed, said the three block length of Bullion is probably the busiest stretch of road in Hailey. Add Alturas Plaza traffic to an already busy street, she said, and you have a dangerous road.

Hickey added the danger of the road is increased in the morning by trucks unloading at Atkinsons’ Market and the number of trucks and passenger vehicles from Hailey’s eastside heading for the light.

During the interview at Burke’s house, Hickey and Burke did a mental count of the number of children living around the three block area. They came up with 17 youngsters.

The two women see the reckless behavior of children on bicycles and skateboards as part of the problem.

Burke and Hickey said they have almost been broadsided by kids on their bikes coming out of Picabo Street.

Hickey said she almost hit a boy coming from an alley behind Atkinsons’ on his skateboard. She said she saw him coming so she stopped, but he was completely unaware of her. When he realized how close he had come to running into moving traffic, Hickey said he turned "sheet white."

To get an idea of the traffic on this road, the Mountain Express stationed two reporters at two different intersections.

One reporter was at the intersection of Bullion and Second last Thursday and Friday between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. The reporter’s job was to record the number and make of trucks passing through Second Avenue.

On Thursday, 45 trucks drove through the intersection; eight of these could have matched the description of the truck in the Boyd accident.

On Friday, another 45 trucks went through; six of these could have matched the description of the truck, which was still missing, along with the driver, as of yesterday. Two of the trucks had been through the intersection the day before.

Another reporter was at the intersection of Third and Bullion Monday between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. The reporter noted the number of vehicles—autos and trucks—going through the intersection of Bullion and Croy, especially those he judged to have run the stop sign.

A total of 99 vehicles crossed the intersection heading west on Bullion. Of those, the reporter judged 15 had run the stop sign. One of them, a pickup, did so driving backwards. as the driver used Third Avenue as a turnaround street.

Heading east on Bullion, a total of 26 vehicles crossed Third Avenue. Of those, the reporter judged eight had run the stop sign.

In all, 168 vehicles went through the intersection in an hour.

But this is nothing, said the three women who were interviewed, compared to what will happen when school goes back into session in the fall. Then, not only will Bullion be crowded with drivers going to work, but also with students driving to and from the high school, they said.

Bullion is the popular choice of route for many high school students now that there is a road connecting the high school to the Foxmoor Subdivision. From the school parking lot to Buckhorn Drive to Quigley Road to Croy Street, then quickly on to Bullion Street, students encounter only four stop signs.

Hickey pointed out that since students have only 35 minutes for lunch, they race along this route trying to be first in line at Atkinsons’ for lunch. Then, they have to race back so they won’t be late for classes.

Uhrig said mornings are not much better during the school year, especially in winter.

She recalls the time her three girls were outside waiting for the school bus when a high school driver slid through the stop sign on Bullion and Third. She said that if her girls not run out of the way of the sliding car, they would all have been hit.

Not only does Bullion become busier in the school year, but so does Second Avenue.

Second is a direct route that links the middle school and the elementary school. Burke said school buses and moms use Second to get their kids to school.

Burke and Hickey pointed out that kids on their way to school on bikes and skateboards add to the traffic and danger at the Bullion intersection.

All three of the women have similar ideas about how to make Bullion a safer road: more stop signs, speed bumps, police presence and another stop light on Main Street, possibly at Main and Myrtle streets.

But, they said, they need to get the attention of their city, county and state governments for help.

Uhrig gave what she feels is the best reason why government officials should be addressing traffic problems in Hailey—"because most of the children in Blaine County live here."

"On a daily basis," she said, "we [in Hailey] are the ones who deal with all the children trying to grow up."

Linnea Polichetti contributed to this story.


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