Stop sign vandal targeting Basalt intersection
A change from yield signs to stop signs at one Basalt-area intersection has been met with persistent, increasingly expensive disobedience, Pitkin County officials said.
However, it’s not that drivers are simply ignoring the new, octagonal traffic directive — though that certainly appears to be happening — it’s that one particularly offended driver has cut down one stop sign three times and another once in the past five weeks, said Brian Pettet, the county’s public works director.
“Clearly someone is not happy with that change,” Pettet said. “It’s now rising to the level of a felony.”
The new stop signs are located on Emma Road as it approaches the short connector road that leads to Highway 82. One stop sign is located on the upvalley Sopris Creek side of the connector, while the other is on the Emma side.
The intersection used to feature yield signs, but members of the Sopris Creek Caucus and county officials became concerned about safety and the fact that some views of it are not as clear as others, Pettet said.
“So we did a traffic study and we felt a stop sign would be better,” he said, noting that caucus members requested the study.
The yield signs were replaced by stop signs in mid-December. The Public Works Department received “a handful” of complaints after they were installed, Pettet said.
About a month later — on Jan. 18 — someone, or a group of people, cut down both new stop signs, said Deputy Alex Burchetta of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.
“They both were literally cut down with some kind of saw,” Burchetta said. “They were cut 3 feet above the ground.”
Public works employees replaced the signs, but the vandal struck again Feb. 1, when only the upvalley stop sign was sawed down, he said. Again the sign was replaced but, again, it was cut down Feb. 12, Burchetta said.
The vandal or vandals took the signs with them after cutting them down and appear to be doing it at night when the road sees little traffic, he said.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Burchetta said. “When it comes down to it, it’s a traffic-control device there to benefit the public. (Cutting them down) is fairly significant.”
So far, the signs have cost taxpayers more than $1,000, Pettet said.
“We have no idea who’s doing it,” he said.
While the sign has remained for the past two weeks, the intent behind it doesn’t appear to have taken hold with most drivers. During a 10-minute span at the intersection Monday, seven cars went through the intersection, mostly from the upvalley side. Six of them rolled through the stop sign like it didn’t exist.
The differences between Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo and Michael Buglione — whether professional, political or personal — were on full display at Thursday’s candidate debate held in Aspen.