Four CSP vehicles have been struck on I-70 mountain corridor last week
Officers reminding everyone to be careful as road conditions set to worsen on Friday
When Colorado State Patrol Trooper Jacob Best’s cruiser was sideswiped recently during a snowstorm on the Interstate 70 mountain corridor, that was the least of the damage.
“Not 30 seconds after that, a vehicle in the right lane lost control, and came into the scene and rear-ended my vehicle, which almost struck another trooper who was on foot,” Best said.
It was one of four separate incidents in which State Patrol vehicles have been struck by motorists on the I-70 mountain corridor between Eisenhower tunnel and Glenwood Springs in the past week.
Two highway patrol officers have had minor injuries; Best said the incidents serve as a reminder to everyone else of how dangerous conditions are for those working I-70 this week.
“We’re just asking for everyone’s patience and to slow down and drive with due regard, so everyone gets to their destination safely,” Best said.
Best said the vehicle that sideswiped his patrol cruiser was being driven by an Eagle County resident. The tires on the vehicle were “completely bald,” Best said.
“Sometimes, the visitors are blamed for these closures or spun-out vehicles, but to be frankly honest, the majority of violators that we are dealing with are Colorado residents,” Best said.
Best was working with a single-lane open on the interstate when his vehicle was hit, and he said it’s a good example of why first responders often opt to close the highway altogether rather than deal with the danger of a single-lane open situation.
“These safety closures have helped us in the long run, reducing closure times,” Best said.
That’s what happened in the Dec. 27 extended closure of I-70 in Vail, when a one-hour scheduled closure for avalanche mitigation turned into a three-hour closure.
“A multi-car crash in Officer’s Gulch was what extended that closure out, it didn’t actually have anything to do with the avalanche clearing,” Best said. “We were clearing the crashes in Summit County, and as a precaution we closed it in Vail.“
In the hours before the Dec. 27 extended closure, another closure had occurred on Vail Pass when a crash on the westbound side of I-70 closed the interstate heading into Vail.
“Just near the top of the pass, we had a truck going slow, and another truck swerve to miss that truck, and it ended up in the snowbank with another car going in the other snowbank,” Best said. “We had to get tows in there to pull them out backwards.”
A streambank stabilization project on the Crystal River just west of Marble is on hold after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers determined that the work undertaken this past summer fell outside what is allowed by the project’s permit.