Monday, July 15, 2019

Invasive Tree Growth Contributes to Near Fatal Accident

There's a dangerous spot on Quaker Road where traffic makes a sharp left turn to cross the DR Canal. Recently, a car didn't make the turn and instead went flying through this guard rail and into the canal. The driver in the sinking car was saved by a nearby resident roused in the middle of the night by the sound of the crash.

You'd think there'd be lots of signs warning of the impending 90 degree turn, but the article in Town Topics stated that this stretch of road comes under multiple governmental jurisdictions, none of which has ultimate responsibility for its safety.

Perhaps due to this lack of clear responsibility, there is only one warning sign, and it was not visible that night.

I happened to be riding in a car out that way recently, and took some photos as we passed by. There is the sign, on the right, obscured by the surge of growth we get every June, as trees extend their reach to catch more sunlight. This tree happens to be an Ailanthus, better known as Tree of Heaven, an invasive species from Asia that is common along roadsides. Introduced species that turn invasive also constitute the main chore for organizations that maintain nature trails.

Get a little closer and you can see that the sign is at least warning of a sharp turn..

Only when you're passing it can you see the recommended speed limit.

Though invasive species are particularly fast growing, a native box elder nearby would also have eventually grown over the sign. The take-home message here, beyond the lack of clear responsibility mentioned in the article, is a recurring one about the importance of maintenance. Few people, when seeing a clearly visible warning sign, think of the ongoing care that goes into keeping it visible. Yet maintenance is something our lives depend upon.

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