New warning, little new money to fix dangerous highway

by: Essex Porter Updated:

Signed raised on Highway 2 in memorial of a 17 year old boy killed in accident.

GOLD BAR, Wash. - State highway workers Wednesday raised a memorial to a 17-year-old who was killed in a head-on accident on US Highway 2 near Gold Bar.

The memorial is in the form of a sign mentioning the name of Thomas Turner and warning drivers to be safe on the narrow, two-lane roadway.

His family was nearby as the sign was installed. "I know my son is here," said Thomas' mother, Laurie Turner. "I know that this means a lot to him as well as his family."

Nearly 14,000 cars a day travel Highway 2 according to the Washington State Department of Transportation, and WSDOT counted 36 fatal accidents between Everett and Stevens Pass in the last 10 years.

So Turner's family says safety shouldn't stop with a sign. "You know signs are not enough," says Turner's father Tom Cock, "this roadway deserves to be divided."

However, the state says Jersey barriers won't work because the lanes are too narrow, but it has spent more than $170 million over 10 years on rumble strips and other safety improvements to prevent head-on collisions.

State Rep. and House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen says it would cost upwards of $2 billion to make the safety improvements on Highway 2. Still, he did not vote for the recent gas tax increase proposal, explaining that there was little money directed at the highway.

"There was one little earmark, in a $10 billion budget for $15 million on the Highway 2 corridor, that was it," Kristiansen said.

Tom Cock believes the public and politicians will have to be shocked into action, "We'll have to have another tragedy of some kind, or something will pop up 'Hey we can't have our citizens dying this way' and when that does, then we'll get the political will to make this happen."