Rock through woman’s windshield reported on U.S. Highway 40

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— A boulder about 8 to 10 inches in diameter fell Sunday into the windshield of a Craig woman driving the same stretch of U.S. Highway 40 where Karen Lynn Evanoff was killed in March by a falling rock.

Megan Armstrong said she was driving back home to Craig on Sunday afternoon when the rock smashed into her windshield. She said it was about the same spot east of Hayden where Evanoff was killed.

Armstrong said the rock didn’t break through her windshield but caused it to cave in and made it difficult to see. She said she reported the crash to the Colorado State Patrol, who did not take a report and told her to drive home. Armstrong said pieces of shattered glass fell into her car but that she was able to keep it under control, slow down and safely drive out of the Mount Harris canyon.

Colorado Department of Transportation workers removed loose rocks from the area after the fatal March incident, CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks said. Shanks said CDOT did not know about the rock that hit Armstrong’s car Sunday.

Shanks said there are no immediate plans for additional rock removal in the area. She said workers had seen goat or sheep tracks on the cliff area when working in the area, and the animals could have knocked the rock down. Another possible cause is the freeze/thaw cycle jarring rocks loose.

Shanks said any time an incident is reported, crews will take a fresh look at the area to determine whether additional mitigation work is needed.

Comments

Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

Hi Scott W - This is a bit odd - this is the very topic you and I both referenced in our discussion yesterday about the hazards of commuting from Hayden as compared to commuting from Oak Creek. Thankfully no one was hurt in this rock-fall but the easily could have been.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

CDOT seems awfully accepting of the situation of rocks falling and hitting cars. Should be obvious that current situation is just a matter of time before more people are killed. That cliff is different than most along highways in that it is a lot easier for falling rocks to hit cars because the cliff face is very close to the road. That is different than most slide areas where the great majority of the rocks land well off the shoulder and a rock needs a special bounce to fall onto the roadway.

BTW, even in yesterday's bad weather, it is 22 minutes from Walton Creek and 40 to Oak Creek.

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Carrie Requist 3 years, 5 months ago

What is confusing me is why thee CO state patrol did not take a report. And if they had taken a report, then does that information get to CDOT? the last sentence of the article says that "any time an incident is reported" someone will take a look. What has to happen for an incident to be reported to CDOT? Becuase the paper contacted CDOT is that considered a report for this incident?

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stillinsteamboat 3 years, 5 months ago

If I'm not mistaken CDOT's liability is capped at something like $200,000 for an incident (correct me if i'm wrong). So it is much less expensive to MAYBE have to pay someone the $200,000 than the millions it would cost to permanently remedy the problem.

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stillinsteamboat 3 years, 5 months ago

If I'm not mistaken CDOT's liability is capped at something like $200,000 for an incident (correct me if i'm wrong). So it is much less expensive to MAYBE have to pay someone the $200,000 than the millions it would cost to permanently remedy the problem.

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trump_suit 3 years, 5 months ago

What exactly would you do to remedy the problem? Especially when the sheer number of dangerous incidents is relatively low at 1-2 per year?

Would you have them put up fencing on the entire cliff face? Blow it up so that it is further rom the road? move the road?

Bottom line is that nothing can really be done to elimininate the risk.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 5 months ago

Trump, I'll bet that they'll find a way to greatly reduce the risk after a boulder crushes a family in their vehicle.

Transportation agencies are great at saying there is nothing that can be done until something happens which politically requires that something be done. Then they discover something can be done.

Tragic case of this was in California regarding a newly built section of hwy 85. It had no center divider, just plants. CDOT said median was so wide that it did not need a center divider. There were several near head on crashes and ongoing public complaints, but resistance by California DOT to do anything. Then a mother and kids were killed in a head on collision. Then CalDOT says while center median was wide that it had such a wide paved center shoulder that unpaved distance was only 20 feet so the highway needed a median.

And locally CDOT for years couldn't do anything about hwy 40 in front of SB golf course and Riverbend even though locals complained. Then there is a fatality and suddenly they can remove a shale pile that was blocking views and so on.

My guess is that after the next fatal accident that CDOT will increase the distance of the roadway vs the cliff. They'll say they are saving millions in roadway maintenance of not having to repair it from damage from rocks and making it safer.

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freerider 3 years, 5 months ago

CDOT SUCKS BIG TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!

...creepy creepy creepy place

Hey George get a frekin clue

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bandmama 3 years, 5 months ago

The mountain goats are only plotting revenge... they kick as good as they climb. Very happy that Meghan is ok, It is called an accident. Think of the number of cars that pass there safely everyday. Hello... we live in a place where rocks roll. Shist happens.

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trump_suit 3 years, 5 months ago

So I drove thru this area on Wednesday and observed no fewer than 15 cars that had slid out of control and hit the cliff face. At least one causing injury that required an ambulance.

If the 1-2 incidents a year from rock falls are worth spending millions on to fix, what about putting in some animal fences so we don't hit anymore deer thru there and also some heating grids in the road surface so that nasty ice will no longer be a problem.

Seriously folks is this REALLY worth spending money on? Just how much damage gets done? To my knowledge there has bee exactly one human death in all the years I have lived here tht was caused by a rock fall. There have been literally dozens of traffic injuries/fatalities and hundreds of animal incidents that caused some level of human injury.

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Scott Ford 3 years, 5 months ago

What are the chances of being hit by a falling rock in this canyon and having it cause a serious injury. The probability is so remote it likely cannot be measured. It is the random nature of a rock falling and injuring us personally that makes this scary. Simply put, the lack of personal control makes it scary. The chances of having a serious accident involving another driver on this road are far greater than being injured by a random falling rock.

The average daily traffic flow in the area in question is about 6,000 vehicles daily according to CDOT statistics. We know that about 1,300 folks make the commute from Moffat County to Steamboat Springs each workday (BEA resident/non-resident workforce numbers). Add another 200 Routt County residence that join the traffic flow on US 40 from Hayden, I think it would be safe to assume 1,500 folks are commutes during the workweek. We also know that 98% of the commuters are the sole passenger in their vehicle. (American Community Survey - US Census. )

How much is it worth to fix the problem and who benefits from having the problem at least reduced? If reducing the problem of rocks becoming dislodged randomly cost only $1 million dollars would we do it? If that cost was allocated in some magical way to only those that drive the canyon daily the annual onetime cost would be about $680 per vehicle [$1,000,000/(1,500 X 98%)]. If the cost could be spread over 10 years, it would only be $68 annually or about 26 cents a day per commuting vehicle. [($1,000,000/10 yrs) /(1,475 commuters x 260 workdays)].

When a dollar value is placed on reducing the danger of random occurrences - we most often conclude we will just take our chances. Holding our breath as we drive this portion of the canyon is likely what we will do. Humans are funny creatures.

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aichempty 3 years, 5 months ago

When I go through there, I'm watching the cliff to see if anything is moving. In this case, you really ought to be able to see the one that's going to "get" you. You've got to be going exactly the right speed to be where the rock is when it gets to the bottom of that cliff.

The safest thing for people to do in there is obey the speed limits, maintain plenty of distance between cars, and watch the traffic and the slope ahead. There is NO collision going to happen on that road that cannot be prevented by slamming on the brakes one second before impact. The stone HAS TO BE falling before you arrive at the place where it's going to land in order for you to be hit. It's like catching a forward pass in football. Watch for it!

'Course, if it's dark, you're screwed.

Why not close that section of road every so often and set off an explosive charge to jar stuff loose? They could even do that on ski slopes to help with the avalanche threat (hint, hint).

This is a shovel-ready project. Call Obama. After next Tuesday, he should know a lot about landslides . . . .

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