CONIFER, Colo. (KDVR) — Residents of several mountain communities are calling for major changes following a deadly crash on U.S. 285 near Conifer that killed an adult and a 2-year-old.
“Honestly, we avoid going places on weekends because of the traffic on 285,” Conifer resident Amy Gardner told FOX31.
Gardner is one of nearly 200 people that reached out to FOX31 Friday afternoon to discuss safety concerns on the highway.
‘One of the most scary and treacherous highways’
“(In my opinion) speeding is the worst problem on 285. In one area, the speed limit is 45, but if you go the speed limit you will be run off the road,” Bailey resident Jennifer Snyder said in an email.
“Highway 285 has become one of the most scary and treacherous highways I have ever driven in my life,” Terry Marin told FOX31. “It is sooooo dangerous that all our family members in Denver request we simply give them a quick call when we arrive at our mountain property on the weekends to just prove we arrived safely.”
“We’ve only lived up here for 2.5 years, we love it and it is beautiful, but driving highway 285 is, by far, the biggest downfall of being a resident,” Aubrey Koplar, of Pine, wrote in.
The most common complaint is that drivers do not adhere to the speed limit, particularly between Morrison and Bailey.
“They’re speeding. They’re cutting you off. They’re riding you. They’re flashing their bright lights,” Bailey resident Beth Blasius said. “It’s a nightmare. I have PTSD already and that really amps up my anxiety.”
The community is now fighting for safety improvements on the highways and accountability for drivers. Ideas include adding a median, expanding 285 to four lanes, charging tolls and installing speed cameras.
“It doesn’t seem like anything is being done and more and more lives, 285 is so dangerous. There’s wrecks all the time,” Blasius said.
What police, CDOT, say about enforcement and improvements
FOX31 spoke with Colorado State Patrol about the possibility of increased patrols or other safety measures. According to Trooper Gary Cutler, CSP is trying to educate drivers about the importance of driving the speed limit on Hwy 285.
Additionally, he said there will be increased patrols over Labor Day weekend because of holiday grants that allow for extra staffing. However, he said round-the-clock enforcement is not possible because of staff limitations and other areas that need to be patrolled, including Interstate 70 and Colorado 470.
“Our highway needs to be improved NOW,” Andrea Allen told FOX31. “My husband was in a head-on collision almost 11 years ago at this same section of the highway that the accident occurred yesterday…The ongoing common occurrence of head-on collisions here can be lessened by installing a median barrier. I fear that nothing will be done before another person(s) is killed on that section of highway as it has been an issue for so long.”
According to CDOT’s U.S. 285 Safety Improvements Project FAQ, CDOT is considering improvements in areas like Kings Valley and Pine Junction and widening the corridor to four lanes.
However, it says, “Many of those improvements are very costly. Pine Junction for example would require reconfiguration of the entire intersection area. Until funding becomes available for the larger improvements, CDOT has been working to identify lower cost locations that provide increased safety benefits such as the US 285 Safety Improvement Project.”