CDOT studying Steamboat intersection
State official to visit to assess U.S. Highway 40, Walton Creek Road
February 12, 2010
The Colorado Department of Transportation is evaluating U.S. Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road after a car struck resident William "Rick" Hagberg as he crossed the street there Feb. 5.
The city of Steamboat Springs contacted CDOT to review the intersection to see what, if any, safety improvements could be evaluated and possibly implemented, said Pete Mertes, Region 3 traffic engineer based out of Grand Junction.
Police have said Hagberg, 51, was crossing U.S. 40 in the crosswalk at Walton Creek Road when he was hit by a car driven by Routt County resident Nancy G. Graves.
A Denver Health Medical Center spokesman said Thursday that Hagberg is in serious condition. According to a police affidavit, Hagberg suffered from bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissue that covers the brain, a fractured skull, bruised lungs and a ruptured bladder.
Mertes plans to visit Steamboat on Feb. 24 to review the intersection with Public Works Director Philo Shelton. But until then, he said he has reviewed the accident report and the most recent car wreck data available to CDOT about the intersection.
His initial investigation revealed that there were 14 fender benders at the intersection from 2000 through 2005, according to CDOT data provided by Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement.
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However, Barb Simms, assistant to Steamboat Springs Police Chief J.D. Hays, said there were 31 wrecks at U.S. 40 and Walton Creek in that time frame. That's about five a year.
Simms said her figures represent the number of accident reports filed with the Police Department for the intersection. She said they include injury and noninjury wrecks and wrecks involving single or multiple cars.
From 2006 through 2009, Simms said, there were 37 wrecks at the intersection, roughly nine per year.
Since 2000, Mertes said there had been only one incident involving a pedestrian at U.S. 40 and Walton Creek until last week's wreck.
In July 2002, a car struck 14-year-old Ross Sessions as he rode his bike across U.S. 40 at Walton Creek. Sessions died from his injuries.
Based on his information, Mertes called the intersection "well laid-out" because of what's already there, including the traffic signal, crosswalk and crosswalk signals, as well as the pedestrian underpass that connects with the Yampa River Core Trail.
"The correct traffic control equipment that we'd typically have at a signal is already there as far as signalization goes," he said.
Hays said none of the intersections in Steamboat stand out to him as being particularly dangerous. He said the common denominator in fatality crashes is alcohol or drugs.
"There's nothing that jumps out at me that says that intersection is worse than any other intersection," Hays said.
Graves, 68, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and vehicular assault. She told the Steamboat Pilot & Today this week that she had two vodka drinks before leaving her home. Graves submitted to a test to measure her blood-alcohol content. Police have said it could take as long as four weeks to get the results.
Police have said that Graves had a green light and that they don't think Hagberg had a signal alerting him that it was safe to cross the street.