Wrightwood officials concerned over traffic chaos faced by first responders

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Wednesday, January 5, 2022
Wrightwood officials concerned over gridlock faced by first responders
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Wrightwood officials say visitors double parking and food vendors setting up shop on the road are some of the issues creating gridlock for first responders on their way to emergencies.

WRIGHTWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- While families gear up for a snow day in Wrightwood, residents and officials in those areas are unhappy with how visitors are leaving behind trash and creating traffic chaos for first responders.

Over the years, one of the big complaints in the mountains is all of the trash visitors leave - pieces of plastic, bottles and containers dumped on the side of the road.

"Pretty much any kind of debris you can think of is all along this route," one person described to Eyewitness News.

But it's not just the trash that's a big problem. So is all of the traffic. It's an especially problematic situation in Wrightwood, where emergency responders rely on Highway 2 to get up and down the mountain from the ski area.

"Cars doubled parked on the side of the state highway, in the emergency lane area, where there is no legal parking to begin with, and that creates a gridlock that emergency vehicles cannot get through," said Sadie Albers of the Wrightwood Community Services District.

Albers posted video from New Year's Day showing how difficult it can be for firefighters to get to emergency calls.

"Case in point, we have areas up here that would normally take us five to seven minutes to respond to a call with red lights and sirens, and it's now taking us up to 45 minutes to an hour to get to those people," San Bernardino County Assistant Fire Chief Dave Corbin said. "When you're talking in terms of someone with a serious injury, it becomes a matter of life and death."

Corbin says not only are people double parking and chaining up in the middle of the highway, but food vendors are even setting up shop on the road.

"Between the hot dog carts and all these other people out there, and even people placing chains on their vehicles in the middle of the roadway, they need to understand that we're here to help," Corbin said. "Not only the community, but we're also here to help them in the event they have an emergency, and we can't do that unless they help us."