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Local Highway Officials Asleep at the Plow

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Remember last winter? Remember all the abuse that was heaped on city, county and state representatives in charge of road safety due to their poor preparation in advance of storms and tardy responses once precipitation started to fall? Remember how said government types swore they'd learned lessons from the debacle and promised, promised, promised to do better in the future? Well, I remember -- but judging by my just-completed drive to work on November 28, in the first true winter-driving day of the season, the people in charge of preventing all of us from dying in ditches have already forgotten. Today's storm was absolutely nothing compared to the blizzards that struck less than a year ago, yet much of my commute was a nightmare anyhow as a result of the very problems that were endemic around here back in December, January and February.

My drive to downtown begins at the Ken-Caryl entrance to C-470 and takes me along the foothills to the I-70 connection to eastbound Sixth Avenue, which points in the direction of Westword's offices, at 969 Broadway. When I emerged from my garage at 5:50 a.m., about an inch of snow had accumulated on hard surfaces and plenty more was coming down. Nevertheless, C-470 showed absolutely no evidence of any plowing or chemical treatment whatsoever, and I didn't see a single plow during the twenty-five minutes or so it took me to creep toward the interchange. As a result, the road was already in full hockey-rink mode and getting worse by the nanosecond. I-70 and Sixth Avenue weren't in much better shape. I saw a couple of plows heading westbound on Sixth near the Kipling exit -- of course, they were moving in the direction most commuters weren't. But despite a significant dimunition in snowfall, the roads didn't really improve until just east of the I-25 entrance, where de-icer had obviously been applied and was doing what it was designed to do -- de-ice.

My commute time during a typical day when leaving before 6 a.m.: 23 minutes. My commute time on the 28th: 50 minutes.

Yeah, yeah, I arrived at my destination in one piece. But the unnecessarily dangerous road conditions I dealt with along the way gives me zero confidence that the highways will be passable when a real winter storm hits. Expect the metro area to be crippled while officials dole out more empty promises. -- Michael Roberts

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