Stuck truck clogs thoroughfare

August 25, 2009

By Chantelle Lusebrink

A commercial truck and trailer was stuck on Southeast 56th Street at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 17. Residents couldn’t leave the area until the truck and trailer were cleared about four hours later. By Del and Deloris Luse

A commercial truck and trailer was stuck on Southeast 56th Street at about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 17. Residents couldn’t leave the area until the truck and trailer were cleared about four hours later. By Del and Deloris Luse

A stuck double-axle truck and trailer caused delays Aug. 17 for residents living near Southeast 54th Street, an old thoroughfare connecting Northwest Newport Way and the Lakemont area.

Commercial trucks aren’t allowed on the roadway.

Residents Del and Deloris Luse, who live on Southeast 56th Street, said the driver of the truck tried to make it up the hill, but the trailer fell into a ditch going around one of the hairpin turns.

When she heard the commotion on the roadway, Deloris Luse said she went to see what was wrong.

“I heard the truck driver and another guy yelling at each other in panic-stricken voices,” she said. “So, I called the police. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt.”

Issaquah Public Works employees were called to put up a temporary barricade on the roadway near Cougar Mountain Zoo, said Joe Phillips, with Issaquah Police Department records.

The location of the truck, however, was just outside Issaquah city limits, so King County Sheriff’s Office deputies, not Issaquah police, responded to the call, Phillips said.

“It happens occasionally,” Del Luse said. “There are several that go up the hill, who realize after a turn or two they can’t make it, so they have to back down and we have to wait for them. Sometimes, they block the road so we can’t leave or we have to drive around.
“It is very inconvenient.”

He said the morning of Aug. 17, the couple wasn’t able to leave their home for about four hours, from 8:30 a.m. to about 12:30 p.m., while another truck came to help the stranded driver.

There are two no truck signs — about two feet in width and height — on the road that tell drivers they need to use the designated truck route of Lakemont Boulevard, Public Works Engineering Director Bob Brock said.

One sign is at the top of the hill, as you approach city limits from the Lakemont area on 189th Avenue Southeast; another is at the bottom of the hill as you turn from Northwest Newport Way onto Southeast 54th Street.

“I just don’t think they read the small sign,” Del Luse said. “I think the city should put larger ones up.”

“Is the sign too small? Maybe,” Brock said. “I could see how a driver might miss it if they weren’t paying attention. We may have to look into it more.”

In this case, the driver did not get a citation from sheriff’s deputies, as it is up to the discretion of the officer, said John Urquhart, public information officer for the sheriff’s office.

“It’s like missing a speed limit sign,” Brock said. “When the police officer pulls you over for doing 30 instead of 25, ignorance is not an excuse. But it is up to the officer.”

During the past three years, only two reports of trucks getting stuck and obstructing traffic have been made to Issaquah police. Both occurred this year; the Aug. 17 incident and another July 31, Phillips said.

The only other calls police received for the roadway in the past three years was one about a reckless driver in May and another to check the area for anything dangerous in 2008, Phillips said.

However, other incidents could have gone undocumented, if residents or the truck drivers didn’t report them.

Urquhart said potentially drivers are unaware of the restriction when they come from the area enforced by the county. However, if residents are seeing a problem in that area and city officials would like to do something about it, then having city and county officials communicate could help resolve it.

Chantelle Lusebrink: 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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