Drivers safer on Highway 12

Drivers safer on Highway 12
BURBANK -- Safety on roadways is always a concern in our area. It's why we're taking a closer look at the changes to Highway 12.

You likely remember the stretch near Burbank was very dangerous. Most wrecks happened near the two stoplights, in fact, there had been 10 fatalities in 10 years.

But now those lights are gone and overpasses are in their place. Not a single person has been killed since.

You can feel safer driving on Highway 12, because Highway 12 is safer.
Collisions have dropped substantially.

The area we are talking about where an elderly couple was blinded by fog and slammed into a semi-truck. The same area where two-brothers died one Halloween night.

Those four deaths helped convince the state that the intersections needed to go. They were replaced with overpasses last Spring.

Since they opened, the fire chief in Burbank told me his crew hasn't been called to a single serious accident on that stretch ever since.
The trade-off was that drivers on Humorist Road no longer had direct access to Highway 12.

"It's kind of a pain actually, it kind of cuts off the area, gets rid of access to the main street right here," says Robert Lopez. He uses the overpass to pick up his brother at Columbia High School. He understood the need for change, but doesn't think the solution makes sense, either.

"The way it was set up earlier may not have been the best way, but at least you could access every which way you wanted to go. Now you kind of have to go through a puzzle to get to the food mart here or even head down 12. It's jacked up," he says.

We also talked to the owner of that food mart back in 2011.
Joe Kumar was worried the changes would severely hurt business -- maybe even by 70-percent. We checked back in with him.

"Our business is down 50 percent. We knew it's going to happen, but for safety reasons, that is good. But business wise -- not good," He says.

The food mart is still in business, it just serves locals more than people passing through.

"We are not getting any highway customers anymore, because there is no exit anymore," Kumar added.

The removal of the exit once had first responders concerned. They worried it would take longer to get to an emergency.
But it's been a fair trade off since those emergencies aren't happening like they used to on Highway 12.

While there have been no fatalities, it's not that there have been no accidents at all, in the year since the overpasses opened, there have been six accidents and all were minor. In the year before they opened, there were 16, four resulted in injuries.