Glenwood police chief warns impatient drivers

Ryan Summerlin
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson wants drivers navigating the Grand Avenue bridge construction to know that his officers are stepping up enforcement.

Drivers impatient with construction conditions – congestion around downtown, traffic on the Grand Avenue bridge occasionally being reduced to one lane – are increasingly trying to make up the lost time in a dangerous fashion, Wilson said.

Especially downtown, drivers have been making rolling stops and not taking enough time to look for cyclists and pedestrians before making turns, said Wilson.

In multiple instances, pedestrians have reported coming frighteningly close to being bumped by cars downtown, said the chief. These drivers need to settle down and pay more attention to pedestrian and cyclist safety, he said.

Part of the bridge mitigation plan is to cut down on the number of cars by encouraging people to bike or walk. Running people over won’t help to encourage that, said Wilson.

“We’re seeing more frustration from divers trying to navigate the construction,” said the chief. “Leave earlier. Take a different route. Do not push it by pressuring pedestrians with your front bumper.”

In an attempt to relieve some traffic congestion, the city last week started barring left turns from eastbound 27th Street onto South Grand Avenue from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. weekdays. But many drivers either missed or ignored the four large “no left turn” signs, said the chief. His officers stopped around 120 drivers last Monday, the first day of the change, who made the left turn anyway.

On Tuesday, the Police Department put an officer and a string of cones in the way so drivers couldn’t make the left turn.

Wilson said traffic engineers observe conditions at the intersection, and by week’s end were still seeing many drivers not heeding the signs barring left turns.

The department is going to work on increasing the visibility of the signs, which will hopefully increase compliance, said Wilson.

But at some point, possibly as soon as next week, the police will start writing tickets for left turns.

Sopris Elementary School PTA President Bruce Bell was quick to praise the traffic change. During closures of Interstate 70’s Exit 116 in March, which pushed traffic to Exit 114 in West Glenwood and onto Midland Avenue, Bell said he was already seeing frustrated drivers passing in double yellow line areas and incidents of road rage.