Drive south into Hastings on Highway 61 this week, and you'll be entering a raceway.
For years, drivers entering Hastings have been forced to merge from two lanes into one to cross the bridge. Normally, there's that one car that flies by everybody in the right lane in order to beat you to the bridge. Over the years, accidents have been caused by these kinds of people.
This week, and next week, the problem will be even worse.
Because of construction on the median separating the northbound lanes from the southbound lanes, traffic is down to one lane from Highway 10 to the bottom of the hill. What we don't understand is what happens at the bottom of the hill.
Cars are already in one lane heading south. At the bottom of the hill, where the construction zone ends, traffic is allowed to use both lanes. A couple hundred yards later, traffic needs to merge back into one lane. It's a disaster waiting to happen.
That short window of two-lane traffic has prompted innumerable cars to speed around other cars in the race to the bridge.
We witnessed it ourselves, video camera in hand, late last week. We saw plenty of close calls, and we've heard from readers about fingers flying in the air on several other occasions.
Until the bridge here allows two (or three) lanes of traffic to cross, we're going to see problems. This week and next, though, the problems are amplified by the median construction. We see no reason to keep both lanes of traffic open for a half-mile, only to then have them merge back into one lane.
Keep traffic limited to one lane as it moves down the hill. Let's not wait until something terrible happens to look at the area.
The roadway itself is safe. Some drivers aren't, and this setup offers too great a temptation for speeding motorists.