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If you feel unsafe waiting on a freeway for a tow truck, the CHP will try to send an officer

Q. Honk: Last autumn I had occasion to use a call box on Highway 38 headed to Big Bear. In addition to questions about where we were, and what the problem was, the person asked me if there was a male over the age of 18 with me (there was). It was early afternoon. Why was I asked that? Would I have been a higher priority if I had been a female by myself? Would they have sent a female driver? Just curious!

– Patricia Wehn, Fullerton 

A. Not sure why the dispatcher was asking if a man was with you.

The dispatcher might have been trying to suss out whether to send a cop your way. They will often ask you straight up if you feel unsafe.

Honk talked to a couple of California Highway Patrol officers, and they said if someone feels unsafe in an area the CHP patrols and would like an officer to wait with him or her until a tow truck or a loved one shows up to help, the dispatcher will send a cop if one is available.

It doesn’t matter if the driver in the broken-down vehicle is male or female.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done that,” said Erin Winstead, an officer and spokeswoman for the CHP based in Orange County.

Also, the gender of the stranded motorist doesn’t affect the gender of the cop or tow truck driver sent out to help, Winstead said.

(Honk didn’t have time to call the dozens and dozens of other police agencies in Southern California to see how they each handle situations with stranded motorists.)

Q. Hi Honk: We were wondering when the McFadden Avenue bridge over I-405 is going to be open. It was one of the first bridges closed, and we remember that it was going to be closed for a year. It’s been more than two years and is still not open. What’s the problem?

– Terry and Linda Priester, Westminster

A. In short, the Orange County Transportation Authority under-estimated how long it would take to get the new bridge in place. It is now scheduled to re-open later this month.

The McFadden Avenue bridge is one of 18 along I-405 that have to be built, widened or replaced so that the freeway itself can be widened, for 16 miles between the 73 and 605 freeways in a $1.9 billion project that is scheduled for a 2023 completion.

When asked by Honk, the transportation agency cited these reasons for the bridge’s delayed re-opening:

  • It turned out the bridge’s design is more complex than usual, and this alone added three months.
  • Heavy rains, especially in the 2018-19 winter.
  • Unexpected delays to moving utilities about.
  • There is a center nearby where surgeries are performed, and it reached out and asked that pile driving – pounding anchors into the earth, a loud and vibrating process – not be done while surgeries were underway. Transportation officials agreed to the request.
  • There are space constraints at the bridge site, so some work couldn’t be done at the same time.

The new McFadden bridge will do more than accommodate the freeway’s widening. Where it goes over the I-405, it will have more lanes and an added sidewalk.

And, yes, Terry and Linda, delays could always hit other bridges, the OCTA acknowledged.

“Addressing all of these issues resulted in the added time to construct the (McFadden) bridge, however it’s not expected to impact the timeline for the overall project,” Megan Abba, an OCTA spokeswoman, told Honk in an email.

To ask Honk questions, reach him at He only answers those that are published. To see Honk online: Twitter: @OCRegisterHonk

Source: Orange County Register

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