Construction and road closures have almost crippled El Paso’s West Side. Commuters are reporting that travel times have increased exponentially, particularly if there is a traffic accident. In the past, if there was an accident, the accident could be moved to the freeway shoulder and commuters could take alternate routes. Unfortunately, the construction has removed many of the freeway shoulders resulting in the accidents having to stay in the flow of traffic. The road closures have then limited the alternate routes available, so we all end up sitting in traffic and none of us are happy about it.
Recently, KVIA reported that these delays are also impacting emergency vehicles and their ability to get sick and injured people to hospitals: “It’s affected us greatly, it slows down our transports and backs us up and it’s a big risk too, it’s a liability if we’re not careful. The traffic jam hurts us and sets us back on our calls,” Elite Medical Transport EMT Gabriel Lawler said. Even though the City’s Streets & Maintenance Department does their best to help emergency responders by providing alternate routes and better timing on stop lights, it is ultimately up to the drivers to let these vehicles through: “There’s a lot of people that are really rude and don’t give us the right of way they don’t realize one day it could be your family member it could be someone you love that we have to care for,” Lawler said.
No one likes to sit in traffic for HOURS, it makes us angry, irritable and sometimes vindictive (that guy who waited until the last minute to change lanes when he was given ample notification that his lane was ending? Yeah, you’re NEVER going to let him in!). But, in an emergency minutes not hours make the difference. So, please, do your best to let these vehicles through. If you hear a siren, get out of the way.