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Traffic Team Supporting Clark’s Christmas Kids   Support Georgia foster kids and Clark Howard in his 29th year of Clark’s Christmas Kids! Our final broadcast dates are coming up at Walmarts in Alpharetta, Cumming, Gwinnett and Marietta! For the complete list of locations, or to donate, please visit   https://www.wsbradio.com/clarkschristmaskids/ Fellow Cox Media Group coworkers recently participated in the 2019 Toys for Tots Golf Tournament at Chateau Elan Golf Club. The goal of this tournament was to raise $100,000 for children in our communities! Way to go golfers, and Alex Williams of Triple Team Traffic, Steve Gehlbach of Ch. 2 Action News, Drex Rener from the Tad & Drex Morning Show on B98.5 and John Frasca! Our events, in memory of Captain Herb Emory, support the Marine Toys For Tots Foundation. There are 800 local Toys For Tots campaigns across the United States, collecting and distributing toys to less fortunate children. Their goal is to deliver a message of hope, through a new toy during Christmas that will assist children in becoming responsible, productive and patriotic citizens. Fred’s Bar-B-Q House continues to support the mission of Toys for Tots and is a drop off location for toys this year. Please visit them in Lithia Springs. Call our traffic center with traffic incidents at 404-897-7358. You can also get through to us using the “Triple Team Traffic Alerts” app, free in your phone’s app store! The app provides real-time, traffic incidents recorded by WSB radio traffic reporters. Powered by Cool Ray Carrier.

The Gridlock Guy- Doug Turnbull

  • Considering my profession, my affinity for observing how other cultures handle traffic probably isn’t a surprise. My October trip to Costa Rica exposed me to San Jose’s recent additions of countdown traffic lights. And now with a few days of German automobile travel under my belt, I have a few observations. First, the autobahn is not a single superhighway of unlimited speed. The German autobahn system is the same as interstates in the U.S. — it is any limited-access highway (with exits instead of intersections) that extends to different parts of the country. » RELATED: Why the West Freeway ride keeps getting worse And just because one is on an autobahn does not automatically mean there is no speed limit. Speed limits usually are in place in high-volume areas or in construction zones. And the limitless speeds aren’t insane. We ran at nearly 100 mph in the fast lane and that seemed to be similar to others’ speeds. Germany is more suited for autobahns than the States for several reasons. First, the size and population of Germany mean there are far fewer autobahns for the government to maintain, thus the pavement is very smooth. Also, Germany requires vehicles to get safety inspections every two years to stay registered. And Germany has a very high bar for driver education: it is mandatory and requires many more hours of classroom and road time to pass than in America. Germany can handle high-speed roads because of its higher standards for pavement, vehicles, and drivers. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: The urbanist view on street design German drivers take two preventative measures in traffic backups that American drivers do not. First, the law requires drivers who approach unexpected delays on multi-lane roads, such as autobahns, to automatically pull to the left and the right to leave an additional second left lane open for potential emergency vehicles to use. This hastens response time and causes people to slow down earlier, which then lessens the chances of a wreck in the backup. If traffic slows very dramatically or suddenly, drivers happening upon that backup also hit their hazard lights in addition to their brakes. The flashing lights act as an exclamation point of sorts and alert trailing drivers that the slowdown isn’t just a tap of the brakes, but is a full stop. I watched my girlfriend, Momo, do this as she drove us. And after we had stopped for a moment, she quickly turned off the hazards. » RELATED: How bad is Atlanta traffic? It depends on how you look at it Germans have a better time on the roads than Atlantans, because the population is less dense, meaning fewer cars are on the roads. Traffic is also lighter because cities are more multimodal and gas is several times more expensive. Even with these characteristics, traffic in busy Cologne was bad and people we talked to didn’t want to drive there. But there were other options, including simply walking. Overall, automobile travel in Germany has been pleasant. (I’m writing this column in the backseat of Momo’s mom’s Volkswagen, by the way). This is an automobile culture like ours, but Germans seem to hold driving in a higher regard. The standards for the roads and cars and the caution drivers take are lessons we could apply in some shades in America. Driving is a privilege, not a right, and that is easy to forget. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@cmg.com.
  • I hope you’re not disappointed to learn that I write this column a few days before it posts. As I write this now, the Thanksgiving exodus has begun on the Atlanta freeways. In fact, I have just started anchoring our Triple Team Traffic coverage early, so I’m working in stereo. The Thanksgiving traffic stew is quite hearty. The corridor most predictably jammed this crazy travel day is I-75 in Clayton and Henry counties. I-75 in Cobb and Cherokee also is seeing its grind rise to a boil. Reversible Express Lanes border each of these freeways and still seem to either take a bad rap or almost completely go unnoticed altogether. » RELATED: Pay n Go Peach Pass available at Walgreens, CVS The I-75 Express Lanes south of town are arguably the best bargain on days like this. As the regular thru lanes winnow from four to three, traffic bottlenecks. As I write, I-75/southbound jams below Mt. Zion (Exit 233) and doesn’t break free until almost Hwy. 20/81 (Exit 218). That’s a normal thing to expect on holiday getaway days. I-75/northbound is grinding along from just above Locust Grove (Exit 212) to about Jonesboro Road (Exit 221). Peach Pass users along I-75/sb can elect to use the Express Lanes if they are heading southbound. In fact, the total trip from I-675 to where the lanes end at Highway 155 (Exit 216) is just under $2 right now. That couple of bucks is saving southside motorists between 20 and 30 minutes, as the toll lanes are wide open. A downside to the lanes is that they can only help one side of the interstate at a time. Currently, I-75/southbound is moving a bit better than northbound traffic, because of the extra capacity from the Express Lanes. This does leave inbound commuters up the creek, but they still can use Hwy. 42/23 between Locust Grove and Stockbridge as an alternate. I-75/northbound in Henry County will get Express Lane assistance when they reverse them in that direction. SRTA adjusts the reversals of the lanes based on holiday volume and typically leaves them southbound on both the south and north sides of town until midway through a holiday weekend. Then the State Road and Tollway Authority keeps those same lanes northbound for most of the second half of the heavy-travel extended weekend. That’s confusing and might not be exact enough for those trying to plan days in advance. SRTA officials sometimes gauge the backups and adjust the times to reverse the lanes. So the best bet when traveling I-75 north or south of Downtown Atlanta is to check the Peach Pass website for the status of the lanes. Under the “Using Peach Pass” tab on PeachPass.com, click on “Pricing” and then on “Live Toll Rates” on the right side of the page. Then choose the freeway you’re trying to take and highlight the different Peach Pass pricing signs with the cursor. Those same signs also show the direction the lanes are operating. Remember that the Express Lanes are truly meant for express trips — trips meant for several exits — and not the shorter, local trips. The South Metro Express Lanes really have only one midway entry/exit point, which is at Jonesboro Road. The lanes in Cobb and Cherokee on I-75 and I-575 have a few more, but not nearly as many exits as the regular freeway. So that adds an extra layer of planning to these trips. Make sure that your friends and family from out of state know that the Florida SunPass and North Carolina NC Quick Pass also work in the Georgia lanes, and the Peach Pass works in those neighboring states. Having this option in the back pocket could be a huge win for the road trip. Full trips in the I-75 South Metro Express Lanes are often less than a dollar. They’re not much more than that in even high travel periods, as demand sets the pricing and the lanes haven’t caught on as well on this side of town. The Northwest Metro Express Lanes normally do not cost more than a few dollars for full trips during rush hours, and while they have much higher demand, they have improved the toll-free lanes quite a bit. The I-85 HOT lanes are the oldest in the state (October 2011) and have the most usage and, thus, cost the most. But they also often provide an outlet for those trying to save a few minutes. The first step in preparation for any Metro Atlanta commuter is to go ahead and get a Peach Pass, even if the commute path never heads on freeways with those toll lanes. Have one for those random trips in those corridors, just in case. And then when the opportunity to drive on I-85 north of town or on I-75 on both sides of the city arises, check PeachPass.com for the pricing and for the directions the lanes are open. And, of course, be sure and follow along on 95.5 WSB and our Triple Team Traffic Alerts App to see if conditions are bad enough to take the lanes in the first place. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxmg.com.
  • Imagine your favorite Thanksgiving meal — all the tasty morsels and elements — placed in a nice spread on the holiday table. If you’re like me, you mix your food together a bit. I prefer using the mashed potatoes as a palette for the other stronger-tasting items. Get it just right. Now scrape your plate into the blender, the pumpkin pie, too. And pour in that wine, tea, cider, Coke, water — whatever you normally imbibe this joyous day. Pour in everyone else’s plates and cups also. Now set that blender on high; maybe pulse it a couple of times. Gross, right? » RELATED: Thanksgiving traffic: Here’s when (and when not) to travel in Atlanta Welcome to Atlanta traffic in the fourth quarter. Atlanta commuters have already faced tremendous challenges in recent times, as volume has ballooned at the height of the fall semester. The early darkness in the time change always adds insult to PM drive and prolongs the ride home. Horrible, long-lasting crash scenes have peppered the days. Major construction continues to kill weekend chill time. Earlier sunsets blind afternoon drives. Fall is a busy time and traffic reflects it. Bake in the pre-Thanksgiving exodus and the maps on the Triple Team Traffic Alerts App go dark red. Tradition (and data) shows us that Wednesday afternoon is the absolute worst time to travel for Thanksgiving. You’re better suited to try to leave town Thanksgiving morning (the roads are empty then) or earlier in the week. » RELATED: 8 mistakes to avoid with holiday travel in Georgia 2019 But Wednesday travel may be inevitable for some, so that means others of us can correct for the extra push. For those who have to work and are able to telecommute, this Wednesday is the perfect day for it. Many offices let out early anyway, so taking that half day in the home office would help alleviate some of the road pressure not just for holiday travelers, but for people (like yours truly) who have to work. Another reason Wednesday could be particularly awful for driving is the weather. WSB Radio meteorologist Kirk Mellish has been studying some models that indicate stormy weather east of the Rockies is very possible in this portion of the week. This forecast could change very easily, but even a probable likelihood of “just add water” to the Thanksgiving drive should change behavior. For the return trip, the Thanksgiving bounceback is usually the worst on Sunday afternoon and on the south side on I-75. Arm yourself with a Peach Pass to save time, as those Express Lanes stay cheap and are lightly used. The trick will be to make sure the lanes are open in the direction you’re traveling. Traveling back to town on Black Friday is better than trying the outer lying freeways on Sunday, when people are trying to return for the work week. Black Friday traffic around busy shopping areas will not be that bad on Friday morning. Sure, some will chase deals, but the rush to the malls for the door-busting deals is not nearly the event it was ten years ago. But as the gravy and football comas wear off late in the day Friday, the arteries around those busy shops (and quite possibly those of the shoppers themselves) will be clogged. Holiday shopping’s effect on the roads is more spread out and gradual. The change to Standard Time has been the first slap in the face to the evening commute, with drivers more drowsy and having to navigate in sunshine at a bad angle and then early darkness. I wrote about this two years ago, and the trend continues. Then extra shoppers jump in the mix and traffic devolves into that terrible ingredient mix from our opening paragraph. “By the time the (time change) transition wears off, holiday season is upon us, and there is more shopping traffic on the road,” Georgia Tech Senior Research Engineer Angshuman Guin said. Since a shopping-bound driver may not be as versed in their route as the everyday commuter in that area, tensions can arise, Guin said. “There is also the difference in aggressiveness between drivers, (which) leads to less efficient movement of traffic as well as causes safety hazards.” As people become more and more rushed or simply begin running more late, tempers flare. When motorists drive at a time or in an area that they are less familiar with, they are likely going to make moves that slow the flow even more. This can hold true for Thanksgiving travelers or holiday shoppers. Be patient. » RELATED: The best and worst times to drive and shop during Thanksgiving week We can’t just drive at the worst times and in bad conditions and then complain about the results. Telecommuting and adjusting departure times for Thanksgiving travel will help all parties involved. Exercising patience and scheduling those shopping trips outside of the last minute windows or the PM commute will also help achieve better results. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxmg.com.
  • At least there were several days to prepare. And Atlanta needed quite a bit of warning for one of the biggest traffic tie-ups of 2019, as word came four days before that both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence would visit the city. But even with several days’ notice, numerous news stories and pleas for forbearance, Friday, November 8th was a horrible date on the roads. And at least some of the backups were avoidable. » RELATED: President’s visit leaves massive delays on Atlanta interstates Trump would visit a fundraiser for Georgia Senator David Perdue at The Whitley Hotel (formerly the Ritz Carlton) in Buckhead, before speaking at the Black Voices for Trump rally at the Georgia World Congress Center. Pence would fly in an hour later to Dobbins AFB in Marietta and attend the rally before Trump. This meant two different contingencies would move at different routes and times. All of this added up to five different periods of closures on parts of I-285, GA-400, I-85, I-75, I-75/85 (the Downtown Connector), Cobb Parkway, Lenox Road, Peachtree Road, Piedmont Road, and Northside Drive. This list doesn’t include the entrance ramps along the routes and the closed overpasses to allow the motorcades to pass safely. These closures started occurring during the lunch hour, on a Friday, with bouts of rain threatening — in Atlanta. There were sets of very expected and unexpected consequences and closures between lunch and dinner that Friday. » RELATED: MARTA prepares for region’s first bus rapid transit line Typically, the Georgia State Patrol and GDOT HERO Units shut off interstates and exits just before motorcades start rolling. The consistency of when those closures start and how long they last varies. Both Trump’s and Pence’s arriving motorcades caused closures only on the roads they were on just before and just after they traveled those roads. For example, I-75/southbound in Cobb County stayed closed between Delk Road and I-285 until the motorcade exited I-75 onto I-285/eastbound. Then it re-opened. That was the standard for Pence’s arrival also. In the past, the WSB Traffic Team has seen closures begin far sooner and last longer. The protocol seems to vary, but the brief closures were the right way to do this. Law enforcement did not shut down GA-400/southbound, I-85/southbound, or I-75/southbound extremely long for Trump’s middle trip between Buckhead and Downtown Atlanta. And because the freeway was completely free of vehicles, the motorcade moved quickly and minimized the closure pain. This was not the case for Trump’s return trip. When Pence finished speaking and left town in the 3 p.m. hour, the motorcade strangely did not shut down the entire freeway for its trip. GSP blocked I-75/85/northbound only long enough to allow the motorcade onto the freeway and then released traffic. Trump’s exit more than an hour later was the opposite. GSP and HEROs starting shutting down I-75/85/northbound, I-75/northbound, I-285 in both directions, and Highway 41 around Dobbins well before Trump left the Congress Center. In fact, he was still on stage and had begun speaking off the cuff. So entire freeways ended up staying closed 20 minutes longer than needed during the 4 p.m. hour of a Friday rush hour. That is absurd. To add salt to the wound, our job as traffic reporters is far more difficult for each event of this type. First, the WSB Skycopter and many other aircraft are not allowed to fly in a 30-mile radius during the entire time. And then sometime during the Obama years, the Secret Service began forcing GDOT to disable all of its traffic cameras for security reasons. Soon after that, GSP began speaking in code or using different channels to communicate about the closures, so we couldn’t follow them on police scanners. All of this secrecy severely limits our ability to track exactly when and where the many closures are. The interruption of so much information just pours fuel on the fire of the big time delays. » RELATED: Metro Atlanta transit plan: Here's the project list We got around some of these difficulties by using a couple of different cameras stationed in key areas, and we also relied on the traffic flow data inside the WSB Triple Team Traffic Alerts App to see when closures began and ended and the delays behind them. We also got calls from our Traffic Troopers stuck in the backups. We staffed up early, broke into programming often, and took the time we needed to share what we knew and what to expect. If you needed to know the status of your likely terrible ride Friday, 95.5 WSB was the place to turn. But taking a diagnostic of such a stark set of closures shouldn’t be so difficult. The Secret Service being, well, secretive of some things is understandable. But disabling all traffic cameras is an unnecessary overreach and just adds to the problem. If they’re worried about anyone seeing the motorcade in real time, then they need to empty both sides of the roads, evacuate every building, and confiscate every smartphone. Not happening. And law enforcement was far too hasty in shutting down the freeways so far ahead of Trump’s departure. Could they not have waited for the speech to end? Traffic was going to be bad enough; it didn’t need to get any worse. The commuting public and employers could have done more to help their fates also. That fateful Friday was a perfect excuse to telecommute, take a half-day, or work flex hours Monday through Thursday. These aren’t options for many jobs, but a few thousand fewer cars on the roads still makes a difference. Many treated the day normally. And those who did not deserve praise. The procedures for handling the Trump and Pence arrivals seemed perfect; they were only as disruptive as necessary. Business returned to normal soon after the roads opened. But Trump’s departure back to Dobbins was a boondoggle. And not having cameras, real-time communications from law enforcement, and the WSB Skycopter left us tasked with helping people avoid these jams at a deficit. Consistency, sensible security, and better coordination need to be tenets of the next Air Force One or Air Force Two trips to Metro Atlanta. Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxmg.com.
  • When we fly in the WSB Skycopter, we can get from place to place quickly, so we can spread the word about traffic problems quicker than anyone else. But one thing we can miss while deploying the airborne advantage is the detail that those on the ground can provide. Such has been the case at a heavily discussed intersection in west Cobb. » RELATED: Gridlock Guy: How we decide where the WSB Skycopter flies Channel 2 Action News Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose tweeted a tease to his story last Wednesday evening that caught my attention. Jose said that the intersection of Austell Road at Seayes Road had seen nearly two dozen wrecks in the past year. Considering how small Seayes Road is, that number is quite large. “Here’s the crazy part: Cobb County Police Precinct 2 is at the intersection,” Jose said in his story. He pointed out skid marks where a vehicle hit a building and narrowly missed a gas meter. I flew over a fatal crash with an overturned vehicle there on October 1st. When I saw Jose’s tweet, I was in the Skycopter in Cobb County and decided to swing by there and try to find what could be so dangerous or crash-inducing about that intersection. From above, we saw smaller, two-lane Seayes Road with a dedicated right-turn lane from Seayes/eastbound onto Austell Road/Highway 5/southbound. Nothing looked too out of the ordinary. The intersection has a traffic signal, something that is usually absent from dangerous intersections. South Cobb High School is just to the south of this, which could contribute to the amount of risky maneuvers and inexperienced drivers in the area. Our pilot, who served for decades as a police officer, did notice a slight hill on either side of the intersection, which could decrease the reaction time for drivers on both roads. Drivers see each other a bit later than if Austell Road were flat. This could play into what locals are requesting for the intersection. Felicia Hill-Spivey survived a crash at this crossroads earlier this year. While grateful there is a traffic light, she told Jose that drivers on Austell Road do not have a designated left-turn signal onto Seayes. “ It’s totally red or totally green. No in between. No flashing yellow,” Hill-Spivey said, as she shared photos of her wreck. Her crash occurred as she tried to turn left from Austell/southbound onto Seayes/eastbound, Jose reported. With nothing deterring or slowing oncoming traffic cresting and rolling down a hill, this does create a recipe for nasty crashes like hers. Jose said that Cobb DOT is going to begin doing a traffic study on the intersection; they did one three years ago also, but the study determined the intersection didn’t meet the standards for change then. One change Cobb and the state could consider is getting cars to slow down in the area. Austell Road has two wide lanes in each direction and a divided median. This creates conditions for cars to fly by in the area easily at 50 mph. Lowering the speed limit probably wouldn’t do very much. Narrowing the lanes could. Both concepts have been kicked around for City of Atlanta streets.  The county and the state are going to need to take more action at Austell and Seayes. With a high school so close and with so many wrecks taking place, there is obviously something wrong. Whether the intersection needs a left-turn signal, more signage, or even narrower lanes to decrease speeds, the status quo doesn’t seem acceptable. But decision-makers can’t be hasty either and need to do the proper study to arrive at the best solution. But they need to act. As Hill-Spivey said, “It could’ve been my life. And that’s something you can’t replace.” Doug Turnbull, the PM drive Skycopter anchor for Triple Team Traffic on 95.5 WSB, is the Gridlock Guy. He also writes a traffic blog and hosts a podcast with Smilin’ Mark McKay on wsbradio.com. Contact him at Doug.Turnbull@coxmg.com .

News

  • The remains of six victims of a deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand have been recovered. Sixteen people were killed on White Island when a volcano there unexpectedly erupted Monday, The Associated Press reported. Eight military specialists recovered six of the eight victims believed to be on the island, and the bodies will be taken to Auckland for identification, CNN reported. Due to toxic gases still being released from the volcano, the team had to wear protective suits and breathing gear to be on the island, the AP reported. The search had to end as air supplies ran low, the New York Times reported. An additional recovery mission is planned to find a tour guide and boat captain who had taken tourists to the island. At least one of them is expected to be in the water, but the other person’s location is unknown, the AP reported. Forty-seven tourists, many from a Royal Caribbean cruise, and guides were on the island when the volcano exploded. Many of the people who survived were burned. Fifteen tourists not from Australia are in burn units across the country with 11 listed as very critical. Thirteen Australians who were part of the tour have all returned to their home country, the AP reported. Skin banks are sending tissues to hospitals to help treat the burns, as medical teams from Australia, Britain and the U.S. travel to New Zealand to help treat patients, the AP reported.
  • A Minnesota man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 24 years in prison in the death of his 13-day-old son. Michael Herkal, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, nearly 16 months to the day after Apple Valley police responded to an Aug. 12, 2018, medical call for an infant not breathing, WCCO reported. The child died two days later, after doctors determined he had suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain. Herkal was charged initially with felony assault and malicious punishment of a child, but three additional charges of murder were filed after authorities received the autopsy report, KARE11 reported. According to WCCO, Herkal initially told authorities his toddler pulled the newborn off the couch twice but later claimed the baby slipped from his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change. During his plea hearing, however, Herkal admitted he also shook the infant violently and slapped him, the TV station reported.
  • Major League Baseball announced substantial changes Thursday to its drug use and testing policy, multiple news outlets reported. In addition to removing marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” category – making it the first major US sports league to do so – the organization announced mandatory testing for the presence of opioids, cocaine, synthetic THC, LSD and fentanyl, ABC News reported. Per the policy revisions, players will still be tested for “natural cannabinoids” such as THC, CBD, and marijuana, but punishment for violations will now be treated similarly to those of the alcohol and violence policies, ABC News reported. 'Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids,” the league, in association with its players union, stated. According to NPR, the policy changes will take effect during 2020 spring training.  “The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a prepared statement, adding, “It is our hope that this agreement - which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education - will help protect the health and safety of our Players.” Read more here and here.
  • Seeking emergency mental health assistance could soon be as simple as dialing 988, federal regulators announced Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission formally began the process Thursday to designate 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” Dwight Holton, CEO of suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life, told USA Today. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.' According to The Wall Street Journal, the new hotline is intended to simplify access to services available currently by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the existing National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Once operational, dialing 988 would connect callers to the existing hotline and then route them to nearby crisis centers equipped to provide assistance. “We believe this historical and critical effort will turn the tide on reducing suicides and promote mental wellness in the United States,” said a statement from Kimberly Williams, chief executive of Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that administers the lifeline, The Journal reported. Read more here and here.
  • An emergency landing by a single-engine plane snarled traffic Thursday night on Interstate 5 in San Diego, multiple news outlets reported. Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, told KNSD the Cessna 182 made a hard landing on the southbound lanes around 7:15 p.m. Within 30 minutes authorities had re-opened two southbound lanes, KFMB reported. Carlsbad Fire Division Chief Mike Lopez told KNSD a man and a woman were on board traveling from the San Gabriel Airport in Los Angeles to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. According to KFMB, no injuries were reported, and the plane did not strike any motorists. “They did a pretty good job landing this thing,” Lopez told KNSD, adding, “The skill of that pilot, he did a stellar job.”
  • A Fort Gibson man recently showed off his blacksmith skills by taking first place in a competition television show. Nic Overton, 23, earned the top spot on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” which is centered around blacksmith work. Along with bragging rights, Overton won a $10,000 prize. Overton told KOKI he’s been fascinated with blacksmithing since he was a child and crafted his first knife out of a railroad spike. He managed to turn his hobby into a career. He owns his own business called Nix Knives.