Fam­ily pleads for clo­sure of deadly in­ter­sec­tion

The Tribune (SLO) - - Front Page - BY KAYTLYN LES­LIE [email protected]­bune­news.com

Por­traits of a grin­ning preschooler, child and teenager hung from the walls of the San Luis Obispo County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter on Wed­nes­day, as the fa­ther of the boy in the pho- tos pleaded with the county to pre­vent more tragedies like the one that took his son.

“Why are we here? Why is Jor­dan Grant’s fam­ily here?” James Grant asked a crowd as­sem­bled at the County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter. “We are here to right a wrong.”

Jor­dan Grant, an 18-year-old fresh­man at Cal Poly, was killed on High­way 101 on Oct. 7 after his mo­tor­cy­cle was hit by a BMW mak­ing an “un­safe left­hand turn” at El Campo Road south of Ar­royo Grande.

On Wed­nes­day, dozens of con­cerned res­i­dents — as well as Grant’s fam­ily — spoke be­fore the San Luis Obispo Coun­cil of Govern­ments in an emo­tional meet­ing, ask­ing for some­thing to be done about the deadly in­ter­sec­tion.

“Our re­quest: Please act with ur­gency to stop the left­hand turns across 101 and El Campo, and other cross­ings like it,” James Grant said dur­ing his im­pas­sioned plea be­fore the coun­cil. “Please do this be­fore some Sun­day evening in the fu­ture, John McDaniels from the Sher­iff-Coro­ner’s Of­fice is at the door of your home, with tears stream­ing down his face, and you know be­fore he says any­thing that your world has been for­ever crushed and will never be the same.”

Nipomo res­i­dent and am­bu­lance vol­un­teer Chad Robert­son was on duty the night of the ac­ci­dent. He de­scribed the

scene for the coun­cil and crowd.

“His face was peace­ful, and there wasn’t a scratch on it, but his pupils were fixed and ab­sent of life,” Robert­son said. “Jor­dan Grant was dead.”

Robert­son said that his daugh­ter drove past the site of the ac­ci­dent while he was there with Grant’s body.

“That could have been her, mo­ments later, that could have been my daugh­ter,” Robert­son said.

“I am truly sorry that my ef­forts were not suf­fi­cient enough to save Jor­dan that day,” he said. “But let me be clear — the ef­forts of this group to­day and this mi­nor step of ap­proval, but more im­por­tantly your ad­vo­cacy go­ing for­ward as we try to find per­ma­nent reme­dies for this very dan­ger­ous in­ter­sec­tion, will save the life of oth­ers.”

Many oth­ers tear­fully de­scribed their own ex­peri- ences with crashes at the cross­ing.

Jadon Smith, whose wife was in­jured in a crash at El Campo Road only a few weeks be­fore Grant’s death, fought tears as he de­scribed her ac­ci­dent.

“When my wife was hit, I was talk­ing to one of the high­way pa­trol­men and we were talk­ing about the need to close this exit, and the pa­trol­men said, ‘You know, the prob­lem is you don’t have the num­bers,’ ” Smith said. “I ask you, what’s the number? How many peo­ple are hurt, and how many peo­ple are killed and how much prop­erty dam­age has to oc­cur as a re­sult of leav­ing this open?”

Most speak­ers cited pre­vi­ous plans to fix the El Campo in­ter­sec­tion that could have pre­vented Grant’s death — such as a 2009 traf­fic study that pro­posed plac­ing gap clo­sures at the in­ter­sec­tion to elim­i­nate broad­side col­li­sions at that cross­ing.

That pro­posal wasn’t sup­ported by nearby res­i­dents and busi­nesses, how­ever, so Cal­trans in­stead in­stalled flash­ing yel­low lights to warn driv­ers of the in­ter­sec­tion.

“It was wrong to not close those me­di­ans when the civil engi­neers said to close them,” James Grant said. “We are here to right a wrong in Jor­dan’s mem­ory. … This is for your chil­dren. This is our gift to you.”

Some res­i­dents of the nearby Fal­con Ridge hous­ing de­vel­op­ment spoke at the meet­ing, ar­gu­ing against a full clo­sure of the in­ter­sec­tion be­cause it acts as one of their only ac­cess points in and out of the de­vel­op­ment.

“Cal­trans should not be al­lowed to shut down our com­mu­nity, to cre­ate even more se­ri­ous safety prob­lems for our ci­ti­zens, and for our chil­dren,” Fal­con Ridge res­i­dent Vic­tor Lund said. “They are at fault here.”

SLOCOG, which heard the pub­lic’s con­cerns on Wed­nes­day, isn’t the de­cid­ing body for clos­ing the in­ter­sec­tion. The is­sue will have to ul­ti­mately be de­cided by other groups such as Cal­trans and the San Luis Obispo County Board of Su­per­vi­sors.

The coun­cil did vote to ap­prove $30,000 to pay for a joint traf­fic study with the city of Ar­royo Grande and county Board of Su­per­vi­sors. That study will look at po­ten­tial long-term fixes for the in­ter­sec­tion, in­clud­ing a per­ma­nent clo­sure or build­ing an in­ter­change.

“We’ve been deal­ing with this for a very long time, and it’s solv­able,” Ar­royo Grande City Coun­cil­man Tim Brown said.

In the mean­time, lo­cal stake­hold­ers in­clud­ing SLOCOG, Cal­trans, Cal­i­for­nia High­way Pa­trol and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials are ex­pected to meet next week to dis­cuss any im­me­di­ate, short-term so­lu­tions such as block­ing off the cen­ter me­di­ans to pre­vent turn­ing.

“I be­lieve that we need to de­liver the sense of this board to Cal­trans and to the county that they should ag­gres­sively pur­sue safety im­prove­ments at this in­ter­sec­tion soon,” District 2 Su­per­vi­sor Bruce Gib­son said dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s dis­cus­sion. “And pri­or­i­tize that safety over con­ve­nience. Pe­riod.”

Jor­dan Grant

DAVID MIDDLECAMP dmid­dle­[email protected]­bune­news.com

Friends and fam­ily of Jor­dan Grant, who was killed in a car ac­ci­dent in ru­ral Ar­royo Grande, turned out to the San Luis Obispo County Coun­cil of Govern­ments meet­ing Wed­nes­day to en­cour­age the board to close the El Campo road cross­ing.

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