CDOT looks for flaws at dangerous intersection
State highway officials are investigating whether design flaws may be causing a high number of accidents at the Smith Way intersection with Highway 82.
Colorado Department of Transportation project manager Ralph Trapani said Thursday that a highway-engineering specialist from Denver has begun working on a study of the intersection.
In the study, Trapani said, the engineer will analyze the accident statistics for the intersection and the design of the intersection. He will also look at possible design changes that could be made to make the intersection safer, said Trapani.
The intersection’s design came into question this week after a two-car accident there Wednesday. According to the Colorado State Patrol, Woody Creek resident Maureen Markov failed to yield the right of way to the other driver, Richard Moyer of Snowmass Village.
Markov, who was issued a ticket, was attempting to cross the highway from Smith Way; Moyer was driving west on the highway. Both drivers were taken to Aspen Valley Hospital, where Moyer was treated and released and Markov was admitted as a patient. She was listed in “fair” condition that evening.
In an interview with The Aspen Times, Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said the intersection has proven to be dangerous for motorists, and he called on CDOT to redesign it in a way that will reduce the hazard.
“I’ve been spending a fair amount of time on this issue today,” Trapani said Thursday, explaining that an article in the Times had prompted calls to his office from area residents complaining about the intersection.
He said he also had been talking with engineers in his office and the Denver specialist, asking if there are any ideas that might be helpful right now.
“But, frankly, I’m not coming up with anything at the moment,” he said. “There doesn’t seem to be any magic-bullet solution.”
He said the Denver specialist, who is conducting what Trapani called “a hot-spot analysis” of the intersection, should have his study finished soon, and that the results will be made public.
One suggestion, a flashing light with a yellow cautionary sign, is already in the works, Trapani said. The desired site for the sign is on Pitkin County’s right of way, he said, and he has made a request for such a sign.
Pitkin County public works supervisor Stan Berryman said he would be willing to put up the sign, “if the traffic engineers say that’s what’s needed.”
But, he said, “That’s the first I’ve heard of it.” He said his department would have to figure out exactly what wording would work best for this particular intersection, according to guidelines set up in the national “Manual of Uniform Traffic Devices.”
“There’s got to be some verbiage that can impart the message,” he said.
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