Wrong-way drivers a headache for couple on former Sudbury Road

The old route to the city dump is a dead end now, but that hasn't stopped the drivers.

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Tara and Jerry Lightfoot stand outside their home on North Campbell Road, which for years previously had been Sudbury Road which led to the landfill. Despite being closed off as part of the construction of the new U.S. Highway 12, motorists hauling trash to the landfill continue to drive up the road, now a dead-end, with many trying to drive down the private road serving Lightfoot's home and a neighbor's. (Aug. 5, 2010)

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Landscaping crews work on the shoulders of the closed-off end of the former Sudbury Road, now named North Campbell Road. Proving that old habits die hard, residents say vehicles hauling trash continue to try and use the now dead-end roadway to reach the Sudbury Road landfill. (Aug. 5, 2010)

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Signs? What signs? Proving that old habits die hard, residents of the former Sudbury Road say vehicles hauling trash continue to try to use the now dead-end roadway, which has been renamed North Campbell Road, to reach the Sudbury Road landfill.

WALLA WALLA -- Old habits die hard. Just ask Jerry and Tara Lightfoot.

For the past 30 years, the couple have lived on the leading to the Sudbury Road landfill. Then, with the new U.S. Highway 12 opening, the old Sudbury Road was closed off and re-named North Campbell Road.

This meant that drivers going to the landfill now have to take a new route. But despite signs pointing out the new route, as well the "DEAD END" signs on the old road, the cars and trucks keep coming. And they are winding up at the Lightfoot's door, literally.

"There were two pickups today which turned down our drive and one lady came up and knocked on the door and said, 'How do you get to the dump?' And I said, 'You can't get there from here.'" Tara Lightfoot said.

The Lightfoots said they simply want to get the word out that the old route to the landfill just isn't there anymore. "People take the path they're used to taking, but when they start going up my driveway, that's where we have to draw the line," Jerry said.

The couple also said they've also had to deal with frustrated drivers who find themselves facing a dead-end. "I've had people flip me off, I've had them yell at me, and it's not my fault the road's been closed," Tara said.

Tom Purcell, city of Walla Walla intermim public works director, said several weeks ago people were complaining about having trouble finding the landfill. The city worked with the Washington State Department of Transportation and had the temporary signs put up directing drivers to the landfill. "Those little signs will be replaced by regular highway signs in a few weeks," Purcell said. "Those are on order."

A new fence at the end of North Campbell Road, along with a beefed-up earthen berm, have also helped cure a hazardous traffic situation that also existed several weeks ago, the Lightfoots said.

"People were driving right past, going over the (earth) berm and going into the eastbound lanes (of the new highway)," Tara said. "They were going into oncoming traffic for about a quarter-mile to get to Sudbury Road."

The Lightfoots noted their problem is just the opposite of the situation wineries on Old Highway 12 are facing. While the wineries are concerned about not getting drive-by traffic, the Lightfoots are complaining because they are getting too much.

"I feel sorry for all of Walla Walla right now," Tara said. "Both the people trying to get to the wineries and the people trying to get to the landfill."

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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