DENVER (KDVR) — The area where the 100-car pileup took place on Sixth Avenue on Friday morning has seen past issues.
AAA says it’s an area that already sees high speeds leading up to a stop light with the majority of people getting off on Interstate 25, something that with black ice in the mix is a recipe for disaster.
“When it comes to a black ice situation on an overpass, especially at this specific junction where you have two high-speed roads leading into it, this was in many ways unavoidable,” Skyler McKinley, with AAA, said.
Why can the 6th Ave. overpass get dangerous?
The majority of Sixth Avenue leading into downtown Denver is an overpass. Unlike most roads, cold air can reach above and below bridges, resulting in quicker heat loss, which leads to black ice.
“So you can be driving on a regular road that leads to an overpass situation, and you are confident and comfortable in your traction, and then suddenly be in a black ice, traction-less situation, which is exactly what happened this morning,” McKinley said.
But there have been other issues with speed on the stretch of road.
“You will repeatedly see people ignore the gradual slowing that happens when you pass the exits for I-25. It is so important to abide by that,” McKinley said. “It is very common to have traffic backed up at that light and you will have to slam on your brakes, which increases the likelihood of a crash, and unanticipated brake lights is the number one cause of traffic jams.”
6th Ave. had 50-car pileup in 2019
Back in 2019, a 50-car pileup happened on this stretch of Sixth Avenue near I-25. These crashes mean there could be changes coming.
“The insurance loss on this is going to be huge and very costly to just figure out. So I am sure there are people that are looking at this and saying, hey, is this an intersection we need to look at and redesign?” Mckinley said.
“That area is rapidly developing. If you drive past there you’ll see they’ve torn down warehouses and are building condos. That’s going to create more walkability, not necessarily on that highway area. Just know it’s an area where we really need to be thinking about pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles, especially in the winter months.”
Something to remember about this pileup, according to the City of Denver: The roads were too warm for pretreatment and it wouldn’t have been effective.