Resident worried about perilous puddle |

Resident worried about perilous puddle

Lyndsay Jo Hackman
NWS West Vail Puddle SM 11-1

VAIL – When Robert McClean looks down from his window in Intermountain it is not uncommon for him to see a car crash on the westbound stretch of I-70 below his house. His concern, he said, is the water he sees accumulated on the section of I-70 between the West Vail exit and Dowd Junction. After storms, he sees drivers skidding out of control, he said. “I look out my window and see it happen all the time, I’m getting sick of it,” said McClean. Authorities who patrol the winding stretch of interstate say these accidents can be avoided by driving more cautiously.”This is an example of people traveling too fast and they hydroplane on the bend,” Vail Police Sgt. Mark Allen said. “It’s usually because people are not paying attention, or their tires or the road surfaces are the problem.”The Vail Police Department patrols the stretch of I-70 from mile marker 182 just past East Vail to 172 in the middle of Dowd Junction. Beyond that point the Colorado State Patrol and Eagle County sheriff’s deputies manage the section of road. “The speed limit is adequate in dry weather conditions, but the road ices up quickly because of the elevated structures and bridges, and it gets little sunlight,” said Sgt. Shawn Olmstead of the Colorado State Patrol. “It’s not an engineering issue. Going westbound the speed reduces from 60 to 55 to 50, but coupled with bad weather conditions and speed there’s a problem,” he said. The Colorado Department of Transportation reports an average 38,700 vehicles pass through Dowd Junction daily. An engineering staff that monitors the area 24 hours a day is supposed to alert drivers to any problems. Another spot for wrecks is in East Vail past the truck ramp where drivers slide down the hill Allen said. More than 50 percent of all accidents in Eagle County occur in Dowd Junction and on Vail Pass, Olmstead said.”I don’t want to tell drivers to watch out for certain areas because I don’t want to create a false sense of security,” Allen said. Depending on the time of year, drivers are up against rain, snow and ice, but since the state’s maintenance crew hasn’t reported road damage on Vail Pass and Dowd Junction there is no plan to change the roads, said Nancy Shanks, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Transportation.Olmstead said he and Capt. Rich Duran are trying to reduce accidents on Vail Pass and in Dowd Junction. One suggestion is to use different signs – not only to accommodate winter weather conditions – but also to reduce speed at night between Avon and Eagle when animals migrate across the roads, Olmstead said. Although no solutions have been proposed, Olmstead said people should drive according to the road and weather conditions – and slow down.Vail, Colorado

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