Friday Catchall: Trapped on I-17; what would you do?

A propane truck fire near Table Mesa Road forced the closure of Interstate 17 in both directions north of the Valley Tuesday evening. The interstate was reopened early Wednesday morning. (ADOT video image)

A propane truck fire near Table Mesa Road forced the closure of Interstate 17 in both directions north of the Valley Tuesday evening. The interstate was reopened early Wednesday morning. (ADOT video image)

The Friday Catchall:

• TRAPPED – What would you do — what can you do — if stuck on Interstate 17 behind a crash or disaster? Just sit and wait.

That’s what Denis McAteer of Prescott had to do Tuesday, Aug. 8, when an incident involving a propane truck resulted in both directions of the interstate being shut down.

Oh, I forgot to mention he was there from 3:30 p.m. until 1:15 a.m., when traffic started moving again — for a total of nearly 10 hours.

“What started out as a customary one and a half hour trip to the Valley turned into a 10-hour nightmare,” he said. “Once you’re on I-17 there is no escape.”

Seems Denis was heading to the Valley to pick up his wife. Not only was that delayed, he also noticed a few hiccups in the “system” we call north-south travel in Arizona.

Among them are:

Safety — He had only one bottle of water with him (it was going to be a quick trip, after all);

Lack of information — No one was there with a bullhorn. Via

cellphone, his wife got him the numbers for some TV stations, which told him they were disseminating information for the shutdown through social media (Folks, Dennis is 80 years old and does not do social media); and,

Escape — The act of turning around or getting out of there is impossible. In fact, people who did turn around and drove back on the shoulder were stopped by authorities and placed at the back of the line, he said. The shoulder was reserved for ambulances that had to help people — such as the person who had a diabetic crisis.

There also were many crying, unfed babies, Denis said, in addition to people wandering about.

And, the comfort of it? It was 106 degrees outside, he said. You couldn’t sit in air conditioning with your car running; you would run out of gas.

Two things we must learn from this:

Prepare for travel — In addition to the regular items, such as jumper cables, spare tools, flash light, flares, and first aid kit, be sure to stash in the vehicle a jug of water, some granola bars, a blanket — maybe a spare jacket, and a fully charged cell phone.

The conundrum that is I-17 – If ever there was an argument for an overflow or other lane on I-17, this is it. Lest we forget the October 2016 pileup when a cattle hauler hit 23 vehicles and injured four people seriously.

I pray no one has to die to get something moving on this.

• LIGHTS — From time to time I drive across the Quad-Cities. While going to appointments or such, I notice things — such as traffic signals.

It’s completely anecdotal evidence, but it feels like some lights are longer now. One is at Glassford Hill Road and Highway 69. Another is the light at Pioneer Parkway and Willow Creek Road.

Turn signals that stay on forever. Greens in one direction that forget the other traffic exists.

I have calls into public works departments, from which I am awaiting a verdict.

In the meantime, I am curious; email me at twieds@prescottaz.com if you have witnessed the same.

• PICK OF THE WEEK — (Proving there’s always something good to do in the Prescott area that’s cheap or free): The sixth annual Mile High Brewfest is from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 12, in downtown Prescott. It supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Arizona. For more info, visit milehighbrewfest.com.