Truck snags traffic light wires in Glenwood
September 12, 2012
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A truck hauling part of a modular home snagged the overhead traffic signal wires as it passed through the Sixth and Laurel intersection Tuesday morning, snarling traffic for hours.
The modular home’s roof peak took out the cable spanning Laurel Avenue on the south side of Sixth Street, from the Village Inn to the Glenwood Shell station, at about 9 a.m. Tuesday, said Glenwood Springs Police Chief Terry Wilson.
The truckload was headed from I-70 to Highway 82, and got snagged on the first traffic light cable it passed below.
A support post was also damaged, causing the overhead cables holding traffic lights for the whole intersection to sag downward, Wilson said. Passenger cars were able to drive under the sagging cables, but large trucks would have caught them and caused further damage, so they were blocked from the intersection.
The accident, which caused no injuries to people or damages to vehicles, caused trucks and other traffic to back up into North Glenwood and on I-70.
“We had traffic everywhere you could put traffic. It was a mess,” Wilson said.
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Crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Glenwood Springs Electric Department arrived with equipment, including bucket trucks, to untangle the overhead cables and guy wires, cut them, and drop the damaged support post to the ground, Wilson said.
Once the cables were out of the way, the truck and its load could move out of the intersection, and police officers directed traffic through the intersection.
CDOT crews installed a temporary traffic light that was operating in flash mode by Tuesday afternoon. It was expected to be running in standard red-yellow-green mode by the afternoon rush hour Tuesday, said Nancy Shanks, CDOT spokeswoman.
In addition, two temporary roadside traffic signs are directing traffic through the intersection until a temporary overhead traffic signal can be installed. A new pole will need to be erected for that purpose, Shanks said.
Wilson said the truck driver had gotten a permit in advance for up to 16 feet of vertical clearance, but the load still caught on the overhead cables holding up the traffic signals.
“I don’t think the wires were put back at the prescribed height since the last time it was torn down,” Wilson said of the intersection’s traffic signal system, which is owned and managed by CDOT.
In 2011, a truck passing through the intersection with a boom extended upward caught overhead wires at several spots and tore down three sections of the cables that hold the traffic signals, Wilson recalled.
Shanks said CDOT would wait to comment on the height of the signal wires and the permit issue until officials have a chance to analyze the accident report.
Meanwhile, CDOT has already been planning to upgrade the intersection’s traffic signal system in 2013, she said. Plans call for installing mast arm signal posts and overhead bars, replacing the pole-and-cable system in place today.
The new mast arm posts would be installed for all four entry points to the intersection. The project is slated for about six months from now, she said.
That should please Chief Wilson, who expressed his wish for a signal reconfiguration to occur as part of the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project.
“I hope that whatever becomes of that intersection through the bridge project does not include wires that can be caught by trucks,” Wilson said.