Death sparks review of highway safety

City officials, residents to discuss U.S. 40 west of Steamboat

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If you go

What: Meeting to discuss safety issues on U.S. Highway 40 near Steamboat Golf Club

When: 5:15 p.m. today

Where: Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

Call: Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush at 870-5220 for more information

— A state senator, a county commissioner and a Colorado Department of Transportation official will meet with concerned residents today to discuss a dangerous section of U.S. Highway 40 where a local woman died this summer.

Lorna Lou Farrow, co-owner of Farrow Repair Service west of Steamboat Springs, died July 28 after she was struck by a dump truck while checking her mailbox on U.S. Highway 40. The accident occurred in front of the repair shop near mile marker 127 on U.S. 40. The highway makes an S-curve in the area, which also includes accesses to the Steamboat Golf Club, Riverbend Cabins and a number of residences.

Residents have described the road segment as a recipe for disaster and said they have fought for years to see changes made that would increase safety in the area. The stretch of highway is an acceleration zone where the speed limit increases from 55 mph to 65 mph in about a mile.

"This has been an issue for many, many years," Paula Stephenson, one of several residents requesting changes, wrote in an e-mail to Routt County Commissioner Diane Mitsch Bush. "It is also one that has been brought to the attention of the county commissioners and CDOT for many, many years. This time, we hope our concerns do not fall on deaf ears."

Stephenson and her husband Reed Stephenson operate Riverbend Cabins. Mitsch Bush is chairwoman of CDOT's Northwest Transportation Planning Region and helped organize today's meeting.

Acknowledging the state's troubled finances, several residents have suggested simply reducing the speed limit to 50 mph in the area as a minimal-cost alternative.

"Countless times there have been near accidents due to people illegally passing on the right shoulder while others are trying to turn left into the golf course or cabins," Steamboat Golf Course General Manager Wayne Garrison wrote in an e-mail to Mitsch Bush.

State Sen. Al White, R-Hayden, and Melissa Nelson of CDOT are expected to attend Tuesday's meeting in addition to Mitsch Bush and the concerned residents.

According to Colorado State Patrol Sgt. Scott Elliott, a dump truck was traveling west on U.S. 40 on July 28 and struck Farrow, 58, when it swerved to the right to avoid hitting a Jeep that slowed to turn left into the Riverbend Cabins. Monday, Elliott said he is still working on an accident report. No tickets have been issued, and no arrests have been made in conjunction with the fatal accident.

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 7 months ago

That it is an acceleration zone is such an important part of the problem.

What happens is that cars behind start accelerating on the assumption that the car in front will also start accelerating soon. But when the car in front slows to turn then the car in back is surprised, too close and too fast.

I've been worried on several occasions when going to the Riverbend that the vehicle behind me was going to hit me.

What seems to be the safest is to continue your speed from the SB II section so that the vehicles behind have no expectation that you are going to accelerate.

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mtroach 4 years, 7 months ago

I didn't think the speed limit went up to 65 untill you were past the gravel yard, and on the straight away. Still no charges filled against the driver, that's a shame.

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JustSomeJoe 4 years, 7 months ago

I'm still amazed that no charges have been filed in Lorna's death, although the traffic ticket given to the guy who hit/killed the pedestrian at US 40/Pine Grove Rd is an indicator of how the DA sees vehicular crime.

Contrast this with Nightwalker Bear Killing, and I'd say the DA has their values a bit upside down. Settle down. I'm not condoning killing a bear and I think shooting a high powered rifle anywhere downtown is the apex of stupidity, but how is he getting tougher charges than when someone's stupidity behind the wheel of a car takes another's life?

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bandmama 4 years, 7 months ago

lets not forget the 40 mph speed limit in frint of CHS..... living out that way I am sort of surprised that THAT speed limit is NOT being enforced.... I was heading toward home today at lunch and got cussed at for slowing down to 40!!!!!!!! Riverbend is NOT that much further down the road. Something to think about.

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Jax Larsen 4 years, 7 months ago

mtroach. What is your real name? Anyway, you are right - speed limit isn't 65 until about 1/2 to 1 mile beyond Steamboat II & Riverbend . BUT speed limit goes up JUST barely past Steamboat II so drivers are accelerating 1/8 of mile before the Riverbend, Farrow and the other residences in the area. People have their feet on accelerators while those of us who live in the acceleration zone are slowing down to turn left or right. Cars behind are accelerating and if they aren't paying attention they get real close (sometimes scarily close) OR they illegally pass us on the shoulder (where Lorna was standing checking the mail). That's all Scott Wedel meant. Drivers are accelerating when they go by Farrow & the Riverbend.

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