Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Kevin of the Phone Force Strikes Again, Unfortunately

Just before leaving my office this evening, I checked traffic reports and found that it was wall-to-wall and <25 MPH nearly all the way down the stretch of US-101 over which I was going to drive due to a couple of accidents. So I decided to go have dinner at a Mexican restaurant in Belmont that I like and take my time about it to let the traffic clear out. An hour or so later, I headed home.

Just as I approached the west end of the Dumbarton Bridge, I saw emergency lights on the bridge, but they looked like they were on the opposing lanes. Just after I passed the last spot where I could have bailed out and reversed direction, I realized that no, they were on my side and I was stuck.

There had been a three-car accident up ahead, and it was pretty serious-looking. One of the cars ended up facing the wrong way and was fully engulfed in flames, quite spectacularly so. I was maybe 200-300 meters away, I guess, trapped in the right lane. I phoned it in to KCBS.

Although originally the right lane remained clear enough so that traffic could get through, a fire truck arrived and blocked that lane to work on the burning car. Now all lanes were blocked. I called back to KCBS and told them that nothing was getting through on the Dumbarton and that it would be a good idea to avoid the bridge entirely. Indeed, I think CHP ended up running a traffic break westbound to get another emergency vehicle to the scene, because nothing was getting through on the blocked direction.

I put the van in park and sat waiting. Then another emergency vehicle came squeezing up behind me on the right. Eek! As carefully as I could, I squeezed over a bit to the left, making just barely enough room for him to get by, but putting me way too close to the vehicle in the middle lane.

Fifteen minutes or so later, a larger vehicle -- too big to fit into the space the first one had cleared -- showed up. I couldn't move. The cars in front of me -- which had a little bit of room and could have scrunched over -- sat with their drives oblivious until finally they heard the horn and siren of a CHP patrol car. They moved over, I moved over, and the tow truck managed to pick its way to the scene.

About this time, they got the fire put out and were able to start letting cars get through in the right lane, so I managed to clear myself out of there. I called KCBS a third time to report that a lane was finally open -- I was on the phone with them just as I drove by the "Car-B-Que" remains.

So while I wasn't involved personally in the accident, I was stuck in the back up, and was able to provide eye-witness news for KCBS traffic again. I hope some people heard the report and went the long way around or took the San Mateo Bridge instead. I was only delayed maybe 20-30 minutes, I guess.

Edit, 23:05: Corrected at which end of the bridge the accident happened.

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