Gas-industry trucks in big hurry | AspenTimes.com

Gas-industry trucks in big hurry

Mike McKibben
Rifle correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GARFIELD COUNTY ” Trucks driven by natural-gas industry workers and others were clocked at speeds faster than 70 mph during two recent traffic operations on Garfield County roads in the Rulison and Silt areas of western Colorado.

Deputies issued 23 citations, mostly for speeding at least 10 miles over the 35 mph limit, on a stretch of County Road 309 known as the Rulison Hill recently, said Sheriff Lou Vallario.

A grant for special driving enforcement efforts helped pay the overtime for the deputies, he said.

Area resident Marion Wells appreciated the effort.

“We knew … (the next day) that something was different,” she said. “It was quieter because they were going slower. It only lasted through that weekend, but we were glad for just those few days.”

After a speed trap has been established, drivers comply with the speed limits for only a few days, Vallario said.

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“We can’t be around all the time,” he said. “I’d love to be there all the time, because we know you have a problem there.”

Wells said many trucks also ignore stop signs at the bottom of the Rulison Hill.

Silt Town Administrator Betsy Suerth said a nine-day traffic study along County Roads 331, 311 and 346 at the town limits found 1,920 triple-axle trucks driving more than 50 mph in a 35 mph zone, 621 trucks driving at least 60 mph and 144 trucks at more than 70 mph.

Another 747 double-axle trucks were tracked at more than 50 mph on the same roads, Suerth said, while nine trucks with trailers were recorded at more than 60 mph. Suerth said the study was done to help come up with a transportation impact fee that town trustees have decided to consider in the near future.

“Traditional transportation impact fees don’t contemplate the impacts of heavy truck traffic. They’re geared around land use,” she said. “So it’s nice to have these numbers on paper to prove how our roads are impacted.”

Democratic county commissioner candidate Steve Carter said speeding trucks and dangerous driving has reached an “epidemic” in some parts of the county; he wants the county to adopt the Model Traffic Code, recently made available to all Colorado counties by new legislation.

“All it takes is passage of a simple resolution,” said Carter, “but the commissioners have not yet seen fit to act on it. The time to act is now.”

Currently, speeding fines are collected by the state, and the money goes to Denver.

“The fines should stay in this county to fund the sheriff’s office, so he can afford deputies, proper vehicles and the tools he needs to keep our roads safe,” Carter said.

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