Live Oak mayor: Make Highway 99 safer
A restaurant owner is right that the seven-vehicle accident Thanksgiving Day in Live Oak demonstrates traffic improvements are needed along Highway 99, Mayor Gary Baland says.
Betty Tica of Betty's Mexican Restaurant said after the accident that happened near Kola Street and her restaurant that collisions are frequent along Highway 99 and something has to be done.
"I completely agree," Baland said. "It's a great concern."
The city's master plan calls for improvements and a traffic light at Elm Street and Highway 99 — about a half-mile south of Kola — is expected to be completed soon, he said. The Elm Street work costs more than $1 million and includes a sidewalk to Pennington Road, Baland said.
Tica said after the Thursday accident that it was a miracle no major injuries took place in the multivehicle collision. She said flashing yellow lights or a stoplight at Kola are needed.
Councilman Rob Klotz, whose term ends in November, noted the stoplight under construction at Elm.
"Once that's done, I'm sure the City Council will look north," Klotz said.
Sutter County sheriff's Sgt. Greg Zembiec had said Thursday that seat belt use and modern safety features of cars that protect occupants helped drivers and passengers avoid serious injury in the chain-reaction accident reported at 11:55 a.m. Little to no damage to the passenger section of most cars took place, he said.
"The most serious injury was a bruise to a wrist," Zembiec had said.
Jason Banks, who sought but did not win a council seat in the Nov. 6 election, said Highway 99 safety improvements are crucial.
"Something needs to happen," Banks said. "We have to make it a primary issue in the city."
Caltrans won't make funding improvements a priority otherwise, he said.
Improved lighting is needed along Highway 99, Banks added.
"It is so dangerously dark," he said.
Banks said that a decade ago a car struck a youth in the crosswalk near Elm Street. The boy survived the crash, but Banks hasn't forgotten the accident that took place near his family business.
"Once you hear the sound of metal hitting a human being, it's a sound you will never forget," he said.
CONTACT Ryan McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4780. Find him on Facebook at /ADrmccarthy or on Twitter at @ADrmccarthy.