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Colorado fall weekend traffic offers new challenges on Highway 285

Fall weekend traffic offers new challenges on Highway 285
Fall weekend traffic offers new challenges on Highway 285 03:10

Things are looking more stout along Highway 285 in Bailey where heavy-duty barriers now line the middle of the Colorado highway as it leads down Crow Hill and bends about 100 degrees in the middle of Bailey. 

"Because last year we had four trucks that went into the river," said Bill Bruner who is a part of the 285 Improvements Committee. 

Bruner and the group have been meeting for years with lawmakers as well as the Colorado Department of Transportation to try to figure out what to do about the dangers along the road, where fatal crashes are commonplace. Sunk into the ground, the center barriers are of dense concrete. 


"They told me that it will stop a semi-truck going between 50 and 60 miles an hour dead," said Bruner.

A road rage shooting this week in Conifer that left one man wounded highlights some of the change in attitude along Colorado roads and specifically 285. 

"I think it goes along with the mood of the country. I think the country has gotten angrier and so I think it translates into everything that people do and so people are more aggressive on the roads," he said.  

No one has yet been arrested.

Farther south in Park County Sheriff Tom McGraw sees angry behavior easily when he's in his personal vehicle. 

"You know I have people getting up on my rear end. I have people trying to pass me. Very stupid and it happens every day up here," said McGraw. "When they see an opportunity to pass to make a break they jump on it. And they come around a corner too fast and they lose it." 

In much of Park County the highway is two lane. Drop-offs can be steep. 

"Two feet off of the main road it's a ditch. And people will be on their phone or looking somewhere and drift a foot or two off and then they roll," said McGraw.

With the first weekend of fall traffic may be mixed, fast and slow. 

"Oftentimes people are going slow to look at the scenery and then you have people in back that become impatient," McGraw noted. 

He is hoping to add a two deputy traffic unit next year to slow things down. Already they commonly clock drivers at over 90 miles per hour and have had them at over 130 miles per hour.


Bruner believes many of the problem drivers are not local – with some exceptions, including more recent arrivals. 

"Denver has become unaffordable so everyone's moving up here and making that commute every day and it's a frustrating commute," he said. 

In the fall weekends ahead he hopes people will be safe. 

Many stop at Kenosha Pass with its beautiful fall colors and cars can line both sides of the road. 

"And people are crossing the road all the time. And if people aren't paying attention there's going to be something happening."

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