VanMeveren Law Group August 2018

Foundations 9 7 0 The Most Dangerous Road in Colorado

State Highway 13 is a north-south mountain route that runs from Rifle, Colorado, to the Wyoming border, terminating near Baggs, Wyoming. The highway travels through the Rocky Mountains in Garfield County. Colorado State Patrol data shows that between 2011 and 2016 there were 160 crashes in that area. Several factors contribute to this being one of the most dangerous stretches of road in Colorado. Head- on collisions involving passing attempts around mile marker 15, where the narrow road climbs toward the Garfield/Rio Blanco county line, have resulted in numerous fatalities. Wildlife on the highway is another factor. To address the issue, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) hoped to add passing lanes, shoulders, wildlife fencing, truck chain-up areas, and an underpass. To make that happen, CDOT sought a $21 million grant from the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program for those upgrades. In May, CDOT’s grant request was turned down. The denial came as a shock to many area residents. Last year alone, six people died in five fatal accidents. One was a 79-year-old man from Craig; another, a 37-year-old mother from Utah. Among the victims was also a 19-year-old man who had just graduated from high school. Another tragic crash, just a few months ago, occurred on an icy curve near Meeker. The multi- vehicle collision resulted in the death of a 28-year- old woman and the ejection of her passenger, who was not wearing a seatbelt. Overall in Colorado, traffic fatalities are up 24 percent since 2016.

The TIGER grant denial follows closely on the heels of a $90 million federal grant given to Colorado in June. This grant aims to help ease congestion on the I-25 north of Colorado Springs and fund improvements on I-70 in Clear Creek County for mountain-bound travelers.

U.S. Senator Cory Gardner points out that Coloradans

commute to work on South I-25 every day or utilize I-70 to travel to the Western Slope to experience the beautiful public lands Colorado has to offer.

• Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Gardner believes these projects will help alleviate congestion on South I-25 and I-70, improving the lives of everyone who travels our roads. While alleviating congestion along the I-25 is a relief for many Coloradans, some question whether grant priority should instead be placed on areas like Highway 13, where traffic conditions are causing record fatalities. While road conditions and federal funding requests may be beyond the average taxpayer’s control, there are ways to increase your safety. Following these tips can substantially lower your risk of being in a severe accident:

• Always wear seatbelts.

• When stopping at a stop sign, come to a complete stop. Always turn your head to look left, then right, straight ahead, and then left again before proceeding. • When a light turns green, look left, then right, straight ahead, and then left again before proceeding through the light. Notice all vehicles and ensure that someone else is not going to run the light. • Keep your eyes moving. Notice what is happening on the sides of the road and check behind you in your mirrors every 6–8 seconds.

• Obey all posted speed limits and signs.

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• Be alert, attentive, and drive defensively.

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