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For the week of August 23 through 29, 2000

‘Cowboy cops’ ride herd on commuters

A Chevy Suburban goes perpendicular

Express Staff Writer

Northbound commuters on Highway 75 who try to jump ahead of stopped traffic by passing in the right lane are now being herded back into line by Blaine County Sheriff’s deputies.

During a press conference Monday, Sheriff Walt Femling said that policy has been in effect for about two weeks, ever since it became clear that drivers’ attempts to pass on the right create more congestion and prompt incidents of road rage.

He said deputies have been patrolling the section of highway along Ohio Gulch, north of Hailey, every morning.

When drivers try to pass on the right there, Femling said, "everybody in the left lane says, ‘I’ve waited, so you’re not coming in.’"

About two weeks ago, he said, traffic was stopped when a driver in a Chevrolet Suburban turned perpendicular to the road in an effort to force his way into the main flow.

"Once you stop the traffic there, it backs up clear to Hailey. We’ve found that if everyone will stay in the left lane…we won’t have the blockage."

Femling said several accidents have occurred this summer when drivers passing on the right tried to force their way back into the main stream of traffic.

He said one vehicle beginning to pass on the right was sideswiped by a car waiting in the left lane and forced into the borrow pit.

"We’re watching for them popping out of the lane and racing up the road," he said. "We’re stopping those people."

Femling said additional congestion, and speeding on side streets, has resulted from drivers’ bypassing Highway 75 north of Hailey by taking Buttercup Road and Valley Club Drive to Ohio Gulch Road.

"We’re getting a whole series of problems from what we see as a design problem on the highway," he said.


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