New features intended to curb danger at Keystone intersection
Ryan Summerlin January 9, 2013
The latest accident at Rasor Drive happened Tuesday morning as crews were installing flashing yellow lights, the last piece in a package of improvements meant to slow drivers down at the deadly crosswalk where a pedestrian was killed last year.
Traffic was stopped temporarily at the intersection, when an oncoming vehicle slammed into the car in front of it so hard, it hit the next vehicle in line.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to make the intersection safer, but to those who live and work in the area, it doesn’t seem to be working.
“We watch near-death accidents almost every day,” said Resort Quest technician Tyler Dewitt, who can see the intersection from his office.
Around Christmas, another Resort Quest employee, Scott Howard, donned a vest, grabbed a hand-held stop sign and began escorting his guests across the crosswalk personally. But it wasn’t long before he was playing crossing guard for all pedestrians.
“I just saw that need out there,” Howard said. “Every time I saw people, I’d run out there and help them across. The mornings are icy, it just scares you to death.”
The crosswalk, located near Keystone Resort, cuts across a 45-mph rural highway at an otherwise unmarked intersection and is heavily used due to the bus stops located on either side.
Keystone residents had been complaining that the intersection was unsafe for years, when a drunk driver hit and killed a skier on the crosswalk last spring.
After the accident, CDOT began installing a series of signs and other safety features to make the crosswalk more visible to drivers.
In November, another driver was charged with DUI after failing to stop for pedestrians at the intersection.
Transportation officials say it is the flashing yellow lights installed Tuesday that will make the difference.
“That’s going to be what helps the situation,” CDOT engineer Grant Anderson said. “Not just the work that’s been done to date.”
The lights are mounted on mast-arms, similar to a stoplight and activate when they detect the presence of pedestrians without them having to push a button. The signals are intended to warn drivers of the upcoming crosswalk, without giving pedestrians a false sense of security.
It is the last of the package of Phase 1 improvements planned for the intersection. Transportation officials say they will track whether the new signs and safety features work before considering other solutions, such as a stoplight or reduced speed limit.
“We want to see if it’s effective and then look at what else we can do,” Anderson said. He said he has also recommended Summit County government move the bus stops to a safer location.