A predawn wreck that destroyed part of Mitch Logue’s fence a few weeks ago turned out to be his lucky break.
The young driver who turned part of Mitch’s privacy fence into toothpicks was the 13th motorist in 15 years to hit the fence.
How is that lucky?
It turns out 13 wrecks was enough to convince the city it was time to protect Logue and his next-door neighbor from the wild-eyed NASCAR wanna-bes who have crashed their cars into their backyard fences.
Usually, they are turning at the T-shaped intersection of Vindicator Drive and Rockrimmon Boulevard.
I’m guessing most were speeding, texting, cell-phoning their BFF, stuffing their pieholes, firing up a doobie or doing something more important than keeping both hands on the wheels and both eyes on the road.
Longtime Side Streets readers — both of you — may recall I wrote about Mitch and his next-door neighbors, Donald and Colleen Kunecke, in 2009 after another spate of marauding, fence-smashing motorists.
In July 2009, Mitch had just spent $3,600 rebuilding his fence when a small SUV plowed into his yard, taking out a brand new fence post and a slew of slats.
Things were quiet until this past June when a young girl missed the turn, hit the curb and landed against the fence. Mitch said he was able to make minor repairs at no cost.
Then came a recent predawn visit from a fellow who blasted into the fence, smashing a dozen or so slats. He backed out, left Mitch a note offering to pay for the damage and drove home.
“This is the first time I’ve had two in the same year,” Mitch said.
It’s not just the fence Mitch is worried about.
A sidewalk runs between his fence and the street and it is heavily used by kids going to nearby Eagleview Middle School as well as neighbors walking to the Safeway center.
“Every one of the cars that has hit my fence had to cross that sidewalk,” he said. “It’s a real safety issue.”
City traffic engineer Dave Krauth agrees. After I told Krauth on Monday of the latest two wrecks, he sent some his staff out to re-evaluate the intersection.
By Wednesday afternoon, Krauth had a decision.
“The good news is we’re going to install a guardrail,” Krauth said, adding that he hopes it can be squeezed between the curb and sidewalk.
”But if we can’t fit it there, we’ll put it right against the fence.”
Krauth said the guardrail would run 100 feet, protecting both Mitch and the Kunecke home.
In the past, traffic engineers have rejected a guardrail because cars might plow straight into it, not glance off it at an angle.
And engineers didn’t have statistics to support installing a guardrail because few of the wrecks were reported to police.
But Krauth said he’s convinced by the anecdotal evidence offered by neighbors over the years.
Mitch said he’d move his fence in a foot or so to make extra room for a guardrail, if it would help.
“I’d really like people not to run through my fence anymore,” Mitch said. “It’s getting really expensive.”
Once it is installed, as weather permits over the next couple months, Mitch might feel safe enough to actually use his backyard again and even let his granddaughter play there.
“I can’t put anything back there like a playhouse,” Mitch said. “I can’t use my yard at all.”