Traffic island at 21st & Cucharras removed after fatal accident

       After being struck by several vehicles - including an accident where a motorcyclist died - a traffic island in the middle of 21st Street has been removed.

Viewed last October from the Midland Trail access at 21st Street, the concrete traffic island south of Cucharras Street can be seen shortly after it was built.
Westside Pioneer photo

       City Traffic Engineering had originally installed the concrete triangle last September just south of Cucharras Street as part of the Midland Trail extension project.
       The city's belief at the time was that the island would help pedestrians and cyclists cross 21st at Cucharras (which is part of the interim Midland Trail route). The main problem was northbound motorists driving several blocks in the two-way left-turn lane “creating head-on conflicts with turning vehicles,” as one official phrased it then.
       City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager took responsibility for the island removal. “I decided the issue of drivers using the center turn lane could be addressed with striped left turn lanes rather than the island,” she said this week.
       The striping had not yet been implemented as of the middle of this week. A patch of black asphalt, laid last week, covered the area where the island had been.
       The traffic fatality occurred after midnight July 1. The driver's name was Hjordie Parrish, age 37. According to the Police Blotter, “Investigation shows that a single-occupant motorcycle was traveling southbound in the 200 block of South 21st Street when it struck the center median. The rider lost control and traveled about 100 feet before coming to rest in the southbound lane. The rider was pronounced deceased at the scene of what appears to be blunt force trama to the head.”
       In addition, since last September, “we have had a number of vehicles that have hit the island,” Krager pointed out.
       The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) has opposed the island since it went in. according to OWN President Welling Clark. “It's very sad that somebody had to die to remove something that the general public knew was bad,” he said.
       Clark expressed the hope that a “better process” could result from the situation. Part of OWN's complaint about the island was that area residents had not been contacted ahead of time to see what they thought of the idea.

Viewed this week from the opposite direction (the southwest corner of Cucharras is in lower right foreground), a patch of pavement is all that remains after the city removed the island.
Westside Pioneer photo

       He said his organization could help in that regard. As the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside, OWN currently is advised of proposed land-use projects in that area. He thinks OWN should also be made aware when the city is contemplating street work that could change people's driving habits. For example, Clark said, “We could have told them the island was a stupid idea.”

Westside Pioneer article