Deadly Cholame “Y” intersection at Highway 46
Lives at Risk Without Improvements at Highway 46 Cholame Y
SHANDON, Calif. — James Dean was the most famous person to lose their life on Highway 46, but unfortunately he wasn’t the last one.
Every year there are numerous deadly crashes at the Cholame “Y” intersection on Highway 46. Locals have dubbed this stretch of roadway “Blood Alley” due to the number of high-speed, head-on fatal crashes.
One of the deadliest took the lives of five people on Christmas day in 2007.
It was the worst number of casualties in a single crash since one rainy day back in April 1999. In that crash, five people were killed and five others injured in a 4-vehicle wreck on the two-lane highway. More recently, between 2000 and 2010, a total of 38 people died on this highway.
Motorists traveling the east-west route from San Luis Obispo County into the Central Valley traverse this heavily used roadway that runs from northern Paso Robles into Kern County and eventually connects to the Interstate 5 northwest of Bakersfield. However, this narrow highway was not designed for the heavy traffic it gets.
One of the main problems at this intersection is drivers attempting to pass slower-moving vehicles. Head-on crashes are typically the result of these actions, as was the case with actor James Dean back in the 1950s.
There are some minimal efforts made by the county to make this roadway safer, but too many people are still dying here. Two years ago rumble strips were installed here to help alert drivers they are veering off the roadway or crossing over into opposing traffic. The upgrade came in a year when six people had died in separate crashes during the first five months here or close to the intersection, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The $121,000 project was one of several projects aimed at making this roadway safer.
Work was scheduled to widen the last remaining two-lane stretch of Highway 46 East. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) proposed spending $261 million on various freeway projects in San Luis Obispo County including $197 million for Highway 46 improvements at the Cholame “Y” intersection.
However, that most likely won’t happen now after Gov. Gavin Newsom used an executive order earlier this year to direct some gasoline tax money away from road repairs to rail projects instead, according to a Caltrans proposal. Newsom’s idea was to reduce congestion through innovative strategies designed to get people out of their cars to other modes of transportation, Newsom said.
The gasoline taxes were approved in 2017 through Senate Bill 1. This allows the state to raise gas taxes for 10 years to fund transportation projects. Newsom has earmarked $61.3 million of that money to be reserved for priority rail projects and other priorities.
If you were injured or lost a loved one in a collision at the Cholame Y, it’s important that you take steps to protect your legal rights. Find out more by requesting a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney at Johnson Attorneys Group at 1 (888) 976-4728
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