State Route 138, an important east-west thoroughfare linking Interstate 5 with the Antelope Valley, has for too long been plagued with fatal and near-fatal vehicular collisions.
In a recent example, at 8:32 p.m. Aug. 31, a head-on crash occurred on Highway 138 near the Old Ridge Route. Both east and westbound lanes were blocked and both drivers had to be extricated from crushed vehicles.
CHP is investigating the collision between a blue passenger car and white pickup truck that was found on its side in the aftermath of the accident. Speed may have been a factor; it is not known at press time if alcohol was a factor. This section of the highway has a sweeping curve and poor visibility.
And, sadly, this follows another fatal collision the previous Sunday. On Aug. 25, a pedestrian was struck and killed on SR 138 near Quail Lake Road, Just east of Interstate 5.
High accident rates on SR 138 are due to both driver behavior and roadway deficiencies. The road contains blind curves and limited safe passing zones, unsafe cross-street entry points and unpaved shoulders. Speeding and unsafe passing are common, exacerbating the accident rate and public safety concerns.
So what is being done? In response to concerns over driver behavior, and at the urging of the North County Transportation Coalition, the California Highway Patrol conducted an intensive enforcement action, with ongoing followup. The CHP issued more than 100 citations for speeding, unsafe passing and other infractions in a single day.
Caltrans is looking at adding signage and interim measures regarding passing and no passing zones. The agency has also agreed to construct a roundabout at 60th Street West and to install a traffic signal at 90th Street West.
For the longer term, Metro has completed environmental studies for the Northwest 138 Corridor Improvement Project. This is a major project that would widen the 36-mile east-west thoroughfare between Interstate 5 and SR 14 in the Antelope Valley from two lanes to four and six lanes at various points. Funding for the design phase is now being sought.