Signs in place to slow traffic on Peak 7 curve
BRECKENRIDGE – People who travel County Road 3 on Peak 7 will have to pay close attention when taking the curve below Snowshoe Circle this winter because a guardrail some hoped would be installed there isn’t on the horizon.
“We all drive on slick roads up here,” said John Polhemus, director of the county road and bridge department. “We did have a rash of cars going off the road there this spring, but it’s not any different than the 28 years I’ve worked up here.”
Residents on Peak 7 hoped the county would at least regrade the road – particularly after 13 vehicles slid off the road and over a steep embankment there last winter. Many residents said they wanted a guardrail. The county has installed two signs, one warning drivers about the curve, the other a 10-mph-speed-limit sign.
“There will be some people who pay attention, but it’s one of those “wrong place, wrong time’ things,” said Snowshoe Circle resident Michael Hart. “You can go down it one day at 10 or 15 mph and have no problems, and another day, doing 10 mph, you can tap your brake and shoot right off the edge. This is an extraordinary steep spot. It can change on a dime.”
Hart doesn’t know what the county could do to improve the road, but he wonders if something could be laid on the surface to prevent it from getting so icy.
“You just have to watch for it,” he said. “We know it’s there; we slow down for it and are cautious. It’s a dangerous corner and doesn’t allow much room for error. If you’re going too fast, it’s too late.”
Polhemus said the main roads on Peak 7 are graded as often as once a month to take care of washboards and potholes generated by vehicles. That and dust control – spraying magnesium chloride – are all that have been done on CR 3 this summer, he said.
After the slew of accidents in March, some residents said signs probably wouldn’t be enough.
“I don’t think the signs are going to make a huge difference,” said resident Kristie Hannon. “They don’t warn anyone about how slick it can get; the reason you’re going 10 mph is because otherwise you’re going over the edge. It’s pretty sketchy.
“I think they should put up a guardrail,” she added. “I think they need more than just a sign. People break those laws all the time. People don’t understand what’s around the corner.”
Polhemus said he hasn’t heard from the county’s engineering department whether a guardrail will be installed.
“It’s definitely steep enough to warrant a guardrail,” he said. “But like everyone else, the county doesn’t have an unlimited budget. And we go on accident history. There’s only one or two cars that go off of it each year, and a lot of it is people driving too fast for conditions.”
Wendy Jordan said she abandoned her Geo Storm and bought a Chevy Blazer to feel safer when driving down the mountain.
“It wasn’t worth it,” she said. “I think they need some kind of guardrail up there. Or paving the road would be another solution, unless we start getting more snow so we can get a natural barrier built up.”
Polhemus agreed, adding that it is easier for drivers to stop and get traction on snow than ice.
“In the old days, there was more snow and fewer people,” he said. “And people put snowtires on. Now it’s those all-season tires; they say they’re good for 70,000 miles, but they’re getting pretty bald after 40,000.”
Jordan is also concerned because she and her fiance are planning a family.
“Kids are definitely in the future,” she said. “And that’s a concern.”
She and her fiance are looking at homes in Blue River – partly because it’s less expensive, but partly because of the curve along CR 3.
“It could weigh in the decision,” she said. “I’d rather drive the extra three miles outside of town than drive CR 3.”
Jordan and Hart laughed when asked if they think the new signs will reduce accidents there.
“A sign isn’t going to make people slow down,” Jordan said. “Going off the road will.”
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