Fatal Vail crash forces more alert signs
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL ” In light of the seven-car accident on I-70 that killed a local man, the Colorado Department of Transportation is putting up more signs warning people of slow construction traffic.
Construction crews are replacing the barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes. The work, which started nearly two and a half months ago, has been causing long traffic delays between Vail and Avon.
Locals have come to expect backed up cars and long waits, but visitors and truckers aren’t expecting stand-still traffic on the interstate, said Georgene Priscilla, a 30-year Vail resident.
And even drivers who know it’s coming, and even for those driving below the speed limit, it can be a jarring and surprising stop, she said.
“All of a sudden, there it is, all that traffic backed up, and I should have known it was there, but you don’t realize it until you’re almost upon it,” Priscilla said. “They really need more warnings out there.”
Glenwood Springs resident Rick Garfield says he makes regular trips to Denver and remembers having to slam on his breaks a couple times on the way back.
“It felt dangerous a couple times. They really need to fix that,” he said.
Peter Kozinski, an engineer with the department of transportation, says the construction shouldn’t be a surprise” there is a light-up message board near Vail Mountain School in East Vail warning drivers of the construction. He says there’s another sign one mile away from the construction area, which was near where the accident happened.
Kozinski said it’s unfortunate that traffic was backed up as far as it was. After a nasty accident like the one on Thursday, you start wondering if more signs could have helped, he said.
Kozinski plans to put up two more signs on westbound I-70 ” one light-up message sign near the main Vail interchange, and one near the pedestrian overpass.
“We have to examine where people get numb to signs, when they kind of blank them out, and when they are useful information,” Kozinski said.
There are no plans to add signs to the eastbound lanes, Kozinski said.
“From a safety standpoint, west bound is more problematic,” Kozinski said. “People feel like they have a flat stretch, that they finally made it over the mountain passes, and they don’t realize the posted speed limit is 65 in Vail, and they aren’t paying attention when they come up on the construction project.”
Kozinski says its crucial for drivers to slow down and really pay attention to the road and cars around them.
“People need to pay attention,” he said. “You would have hoped this horrific accident could have been avoided.”