Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bay Bridge Accident

Side by side version of :Image:San Francisco O...Image via Wikipedia

How soon before the San Francisco Bay Bridge re-opens?  More importantly, will the fix hold for good this time? 

High winds Tuesday night caused a steel cross-beam and two tie rods to snap off and fall to the upper deck, damaging three cars and injuring one person.  The three steel pieces were part of an emergency repair made just seven weeks ago during a planned Labor Day expansion project. 

An un-forseen crack in a structural beam then,  forced that repair... and threatened a possible major delay in the bridge's re-opening. However, the crack was repaired, and thus,  swiftly allowed the bridge to re-open...nearly on schedule!

After Tuesday's accident, which caused enormous commute problems throughout the entire North and East Bay Area, Caltrans refused to predict when the Bay Bridge would re-open, though the lead contractor predicted the new repair woud be complete sometime today.

Under intense public scrutiny--and now the eyes of the Federal Highway Administration, Caltrans blames high winds and traffic vibration for Tuesday's accident, claiming the repair design was a first-of-its-kind innovation, done on a type of cracked beam never before seen.

"Wind is something that should have been accounted for in that design," Caltrans spokesman Bart Ney said Wednesday. "We've identified fatigue as a factor, and our new design should address that." 

Still, there are skeptics who believe the initial brace design was an inadequate fix for a 73-year old bridge. UC-Berkeley engineering professor Abolhassan Astaneh-Asi said, "They rushed this repair over Labor Day, and now they refuse to acknowledge that it's an incorrect design."

Caltrans officials defended their brace design, claiming they are making vast improvements this time in order to provide additional protection. Meanwhile, Thursday's commute could set new traffic records as drivers crawl along adjacent highways and bridges, and pack into Bart train stations...all hoping that their sacrifices will lead to a FULLY fixed Bay Bridge--once and for all!

One final question. Who is going to pay for the three smashed autos damaged on the bridge, and the medical bills for the woman who was injured?  (Just wondering!) 

Thanks, and see you on the other side of the bridge.


"Best Wishes"--PTCJr

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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Courier Story

I am a ground-courier for a company called Streetwise Special Delivery, which means I drive for a living. That may not sound too exciting, but it is! I get to deliver almost anything you can anywhere...and at any time of day or night.

We deliver everything from computer parts to crime lab samples to court documents to chocolate cookies, and our client destinations cover the entire Bay Area, California, and beyond.

The key to our success is delivering whatever is needed ON time, every time, and to the customer's satisfaction... without exception. It's either be consistent, or they'll call another delivery service. There are NO second chances.

If this fails to generate enough excitement, challenge, or variety to my career...there is one final perk that puts the icing on my cake. I get a lot of satisfaction from the appreciative smiles and warm handshakes customers give when a delivery is there early, or their day is saved. I know now that I've helped to make a positive difference somehow!.

I'll share one very special example: We deliver highly controlled medication to critically ill hospice patients dying of cancer or other terminal disease. They are often surviving in the hopeful comfort of thier last days..

A highly specialized hospice care company provides us with pharmacy pick-up information, nurses instructions, and patient addresses where the medicine is delivered to a designated family member or home-care nurse.

This is a unique type of delivery that requires security, safety, and special respect,,,.not just for handling controlled prescription drugs, but, also handling the sensitive mood of the receiving family. It is in this atmosphere, that I enjoyed my most memorable delivery success.

I was called out of bed in San Jose to drive to Walnut Creek to pick up medication bound for a needy patient in Fairfield. I left the house at 12:15am with a deadline of 2:30am. With no traffic and no need to break speed laws, everything fell into place....and I reached the patient's home early, at 1:50am.

As it turned out, the grieving husband ran out of his wife's much needed pain medicine hours earlier, and wasn't expecting me that soon. When he answered the door I couldn't help but see his worried face flash open a relieved smile. Upon signing my release form he began to cry, and then extended me a warm hug of appreciation.

"ThankYou so much and God bless You", he said. I felt shivers down my spine while driving way, bound for home with a little lost sleep, and a lot of self-satisfaction and purpose!!

Thanks, Drive safely, and with purpose.


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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Road Rage

The symbolic face of death:  detail from an 18...Image via Wikipedia

Road rage is an act of agression by a vehicle driver toward another.  If taken to the extreme, it often leads to physical assault, injury, and even death. It has risen to epidemic proportions throughout the country, whereby more drivers fear being victimized by road rage than by drunk drivers.

Between 1000 and 1500 people are killed each year due to road rage incidents, most involving firearms and other weapons...including the assailant's car. In every day, common cases, plain old aggression and aggressive driving also cause over 50-percent of all car crashes in this country.

How  do we slow this disease down, especially here in the Bay Area?  To start with, we all need to lighten up when driving.  I'm going to share an incident that happened to me a few weeks ago that may offer some help::

I take DeLaCruz Blvd every day when working for StreetWise Special Delivery. I was driving South the other morning between Hwy.101 and the San Jose Airport, when I nearly ran a small truck off the road. It happened at a wishbone fork that leads right to Santa Clara or left where it turns into Coleman Ave. I turned left onto Coleman at the same time this small truck turned onto Coleman from the Santa Clara, ElCamino Real side.  I was either not paying attention or he drifted into my huge, sunrise blind-spot....because I never saw him!. I changed lanes and cut him right off,  not realizing a thing until we stopped a half -mile ahead at the airport entrance stoplight. 

This is the perfect road rage scenerio!  The driver could either lay on the horn, flip me off, get out of his truck screaming for a fight, or pull out a weapon and physically assault me. It happens all to often, but thankfully...not to me, at least not this day. What did happen was just the opposite, and an example to learn from:

...I heard a tap on the horn from behind me and turned around. The man signaled me to roll down my window. (I thought something may be wrong with my car) He then leaned out of his window, and, in a calm voice intoned..."Did you know you just cut right in front of me?" You almost ran me off the road back there at the bridge." I apologized and said....  "I didn't even see everything OK?"  "Yea, I'll live. Just be more careful next time, and have a nice day", he said.  I told him thanks and apologized again. We both drove off on our seperate ways,  safely and free of  road rage!! This truck driver teaches a great lesson! Lighten UP!

...It comes down to the basics.... Don't drive in a bad mood, avoid being in a hurry, and drive defensivly as opposed to aggressively!  Always signal when changing lanes.(57% don't) Do not tailgate, do not drive slowly in fast(left) lanes, and above all...AVOID possible confrontations on the road. This means no return screams, obscene gestures, horn honking or high beams. If threatened or taunted by another driver, avoid and evade them.

If pursued, use your cell to call police and/or drive to a station if possible.  Do NOT drive home, and do NOT leave your car unless safely away from danger. These rules should help reduce road rage incidents, but it may also come down to common sense.

If you make a mistake behind the wheel and have the chance...apologize appropriatly. Be cheerful and polite to other drivers especially in heavy traffic where most road rage originates. Smile, and let the other driver in, or slow down...and let them pass peacefully.
If we all follow these basic steps, perhaps we can pave more PEACEFUL roads to drive on.

Continue to drive safely out there, and avoid THE RAGE.



"Best Wishes"--PTCJr

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