What began as a tragedy 14 months ago happily ends this week.
On Wednesday (May 18), the Washington State Department of Transportation began restriping a stretch of U.S. Highway 101 fronting Discovery Bay RV Park in Gardiner, where the park’s former office manager, Judy Ann Cates, died in a car crash March 1, 2010.
As reported by the Peninsula Daily News, Port Angeles, Wash., the special project to restripe an eastbound left-turn lane leading into the recreational vehicle park — expected to be finished today — was paid for by the park’s residents, who last year raised $30,000 in Cates’ memory.
“I cried this morning when I saw it,” said RV park manager Nicki Sexton, who worked closely with the park’s former office manager Cates, as she looked at the project Wednesday.
Sexton was one of several park residents who had tearfully stood on the highway’s edge shocked by the sight of the wreckage after Cates died.
“It took a death to do this, but God bless DOT and everyone who was involved,” Sexton said.
Cates, a 59-year-old retired school librarian, had stopped her car to turn left into the park after a trip to the supermarket.
Her 2002 Saturn four-door was clipped on its right rear end by a vehicle that was attempting to drive around her, spinning Cates’ car into the westbound lane, where it was struck from behind by a larger, fast-moving oncoming sport utility vehicle.
Cates, her car extensively crushed and compressed from behind, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Park residents last summer created a memorial garden in Cates’ name near the recreation center.
Lynn Kauffman, board president for the Discovery Bay Leaseholders Association, which owns and operates the park on a hillside south of the highway overlooking the scenic bay, credited state Rep. Kevin Van De Wege, who represents the 24th District, and Steve Bennett, transportation traffic operations engineer, for expediting the project.
“He really pushed this thing through,” Kauffman said of Van De Wege as she watched workers prepare the highway Wednesday for restriping today.
Bennett said the restriping for the Highway 101 left-turn pocket would amount to three lanes at 11 feet wide each with two 4-foot-wide shoulders.
A 100-foot left-turn pocket lane will be created in front of the RV park.
It will allow motorists to move around a vehicle waiting to drive into the park, a right-side passing move that is not legal today.
The re-striping will be done on the existing surface of the highway, which will not be altered.