September 23, 2009 – According to Caltrans officials, there have been a total of 44 accidents in the last four years — less than one per month — at the intersection of northbound SR-125 and Mission Gorge Road in Santee, the site of two accidents that resulted in five fatalities in the last month.
On August 28, four people were killed after the car’s accelerator apparently became stuck and plowed through the intersection, into an SUV and burst into flames.
On Sunday, a woman was killed and another person critically injured after their trucks collided at the same intersection.
Caltrans said they will try and warn drivers about the intersection before they get there.
“We have had over the last four years 44 traffic collisions at that intersection,” said Lt. Mike Munsey of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Caltrans spokesman Edward Cartagena said a high number of accidents don’t necessarily mean an intersection’s design should be investigated. Instead, Caltrans studies trends, including what types of accidents occur, what times and where.
Capt. Patricia Duke of the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said, “We’re not seeing a pattern. We are seeing some accidents as we do in every intersection. However, we are not seeing any identified pattern.”
The incidents caught the attention of Santee city officials, but one problem with the intersection is northbound SR-125 is a four-lane highway with a 65 mph speed limit. As the highway enters Santee, it heads downhill. The only warning that the highway is about to end comes a half-mile before a stoplight at Mission Gorge Road, and there are no other warnings.
On the other side of Santee is SR- 67, a two-lane roadway. As SR-67 enters Lakeside, there are flashing lights and a warning for a decreased speed limit. Santee officials said they asked Caltrans to install similar signs on SR-125, and Caltrans said it should only take a couple of weeks to have them in place.
Santee’s Deputy City Manager Pedro Orso-Delgado said the road might need more safety measures, including rumble strips.
“It would give you an audible alert while you’re driving and coming to the end of the freeway,” said Orso-Delgado.
Caltrans said they were planning to add the new warnings later next year and are asking the contractor to do it ahead of schedule.
“Now, would the signage have prevented the accidents? I don’t know,” said Orso-Delgado.