Basalt bus stop will be moved to reduce risky crossings
BASALT ” A midvalley bus stop where a man was killed last year while crossing Highway 82 is being relocated to a safer spot.
The downvalley Sagewood bus stop ” across the highway from the Basalt medical center ” will be moved a few hundred feet upvalley, closer to the intersection of Original Road and Highway 82. The Roaring Fork Transportation Authority and town of Basalt have applied for a permit from the Colorado Department of Transportation to move the bus stop.
“We recognize it’s a bomb ticking out there ” because of what we witness on a daily basis,” said Kent Blackmer, RFTA’s co-director of operations.
Drivers encourage riders who exit at that stop to cross Highway 82 at the traffic signal, which has a pedestrian cycle. Few do because it requires them to backtrack upvalley a couple of hundred feet.
Instead, residents in the nearby townhouses in Willits tend to dash across the highway right in front of the bus stop. Basalt police said a risky crossing cost Carlos Urbina, 67, his life on Sept. 11. The investigation showed Urbina exited a downvalley-bound bus and tried to cross the highway ahead of approaching traffic on a dark, rainy night.
They concluded that he saw one vehicle in the lane closest to him and judged that he could make it across. Urbina apparently didn’t see another vehicle in the left lane. He was struck by the second vehicle and later died of his injuries.
The driver fled the scene but returned and surrendered within minutes. He was charged with leaving the scene. Basalt police believe he was deported to Honduras.
Basalt Police Sgt. Stu Curry welcomed news Thursday that the bus stop will be repositioned closer to the traffic signal.
“I think it’s a dangerous situation as it is now,” Curry said. “The last thing we want is another person getting hurt there.”
The bus stop was installed years ago, prior to any stoplight in the area. At that point, the positioning of the bus stop didn’t really matter because one place wasn’t any better than another, Curry said. The stoplight at Highway 82 and Original Road was added in 2007. The intersection is well lit, so it vastly improves safety for pedestrians, he said.
RFTA officials hope to change to location of the bus stop by spring or summer.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”