My recent article on slow trucks using the emergency lane to climb hills generated a lot of feedback. Here are three samples:
The article also prompted some feedback from Gary Leaming, an ODOT spokesman. He wrote, "Saw your column today. Just so you know, we have a project planned in 2013 that will construct a northbound climbing lane from Hugo to the top of Sexton Summit. This also will repave the interstate north of Hugo to Glendale and take care of a bad southbound curve."
As a result of his email, I called Leaming to see what ODOT's stance was on the issue. He said that the Siskiyou Pass shoulders are built like climbing lanes but are not designated as climbing lanes. With trucks judiciously using the shoulders when needed, it seems to keep traffic moving. While it is not ideal, it is the reality.
A sergeant at OSP agreed that the reality is they are not holding up all the freeway traffic when they are climbing the grades, even though they are not officially signed as climbing lanes.
What this means to me is that the letter of the law says no driving in the emergency lane by trucks climbing hills, but the reality of the situation is that common sense says traffic flows much better when the trucks use the emergency lane to climb hills.
As such, and because it's not a big safety issue, law enforcement is not going to be enforcing this issue while more productive attention can be paid to such things as speeders, and distracted and impaired drivers.
Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a regular Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or email email@example.com.