As of September 2009, highway renovation projects have been eclipsed by more pressing political concerns, and the health care debate has forced Highway 8 off the docket and into an uncertain future. Meanwhile, as development in Chisago County increases, so does the traffic burden on Highway 8, one of the only east/west roads to carry travelers through the county.
Crash rates have remained steady, but after a 60 percent decline in fatalities since 1996 and a fatality-free start to the millennium, Highway 8 has already seen four deaths in 2009, the most since MnDOT renovated sections of the road in the mid-'90s, bloody proof that the problem is far from solved.
Highway 8 and Pleasant Valley Road meet on the corner of the Hazleden property, posing a transit terror for its 1,100 employees and patients
Mark Mishek, Hazelden's CEO, says Highway 8 is too dangerous to be ignored
Meanwhile, Nancy Eisenberg's recovery from brain injury has been remarkable, but slow, and has diminished her life forever. Due to lingering nerve damage, she can't drive. She suffers from a deficiency in what neurologists call "executive-level thinking." And after almost five years confined to a wheelchair, she and her husband were only recently able to remove the chair lift from their home.
"It's not just unfathomable, it's criminal neglect," Brandriss says of the government's slow action on Highway 8. "This is about saving people's lives."