Dangerous parking situation
A few days ago I was almost hit head-on by another vehicle because I was on the wrong side of the road while navigating a blind curve. The other driver could not have seen me. Fortunately, we were both going slowly and were able to brake in time, thus avoiding an accident and possible injuries.
You must be thinking, why was this person in the wrong lane
facing oncoming traffic while taking a sharp turn? It's a very simple
explanation: for years the Watauga County Sheriff's Office, the N.C. State
Highway Patrol and the U.S. National Park Service have dealt with the ongoing
problem of illegal parking by locals and tourists. They park at the entrance to
the trailhead that leads to Hebron Falls, which is just off Old Turnpike Road
at the extreme northern boundary of Julian Price Memorial Park. This site is
quite beautiful and is highlighted as one of the "must see" natural locations
while visiting the Boone area in our local Visitor's Guide. Unfortunately,
neither the park service nor the N.C. Department of Transportation has come up
with and implemented a solution to this very dangerous situation.
There may often be upward of 30-40 vehicles parked on both
sides of this narrow, twisting, gravel road on any given Saturday or Sunday
during the summer. The local sheriff's office told me that this problem has
existed for years. I find this hard to believe. This past Sunday, there was an
entire group of people sitting in lawn chairs right out in the road. Surely,
someone must have realized they were sitting in the middle of a state road?
I recently moved into the neighborhood and was immediately
struck by the inconvenience created for residents, but more importantly, the
danger in letting children, dogs, open doors, coolers and vehicles parked on
both sides of the road impeding the flow of traffic. The U.S. National Park
Service says it can't put in a parking lot (no money, I assume), but can't the
state at least put up signs stating, "No Parking At Any Time -- This is a
As it stands right now, the families parking on the side of
the road aren't even aware that they are breaking the law or creating a
dangerous situation. At the very least, there should be signs posted stating
the consequences of parking illegally.
Can you imagine what it must feel like to spend an afternoon
swimming, hiking and taking in the sites, only to return to an empty street
because your car has been towed? Yes, troopers will issue citations or tow
vehicles when called with a complaint, but the bigger issue here is, "Don't
they have better things to do with their time?" Shouldn't the visitors be
allowed to enjoy their weekend or vacation time without fear of being towed or
cited; especially, since there are no signs stating otherwise?
As our primary newspaper in Boone and Watauga County, I
encourage you to investigate this situation, and do some proactive reporting
for the benefit of our hard working state employees, our visitors who come to Watauga
County for some rest and relaxation, and those who live here, too.