When positive thinking and the Eisenhower Tunnel mix | SummitDaily.com

When positive thinking and the Eisenhower Tunnel mix

TARA FLANAGANspecial to the daily
Special to the DailyTara Flanagan, columnist

You might be familiar with the astrologer Rob Brezsny. He’s got a relatively new book out called “Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.” Long story short, according to Brezsny, is that a lot more goes right than wrong in life. Pronoia is a way of looking at things so you understand that life gives you what you want, when you need it. And while you may have gotten up to boorish roommates and bad coffee this morning, while you might feel crappy with the malaise currently coursing through Summit County, you are ostensibly among the living today. Meaning, that by some series of events that most of us do not understand, we continued breathing through the night, our various organs continued their conspiracy to keep us alive, and most of us were not rousted from bed by a sudden fissure in the earth. Before you left for work, you most likely experienced the miracles of electricity and indoor plumbing, so says the author.I’m guessing that most of us look at life as a constantly morphing blob that floats between good and bad. And the other morning when I talked to Mary Moss, I was guessing that we wouldn’t need much of a segue into The Winter From Hell. Mary’s a crew chief at the Eisenhower Tunnel. She’s been working for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for 21 years now, and has “been there done that” a million times when it comes to roads and weather and the things people do getting from Point A to Point B.

There’s been a lot of weather this year, and Eisenhower always seems to be the vortex of the evening news: “Tornadoes ravage the Midwest, an elementary student brings the family pet for school lunch, but wait – let’s see what’s going on at the Eisenhower Tunnel, Bob.”As CDOT was out there mopping up yet another storm, I asked Mary how things were holding up. “It’s not a bad year so far,” she tells me.And I’m thinking, “huh.”Now 2003, that was a tough year with I-70 closing for days and the avalanches, but it was heartening to see the CDOT folks coming from Burlington and the far Western Slope to help out here in the mountains, she tells me.

We talk about what the crews at Eisenhower do. They are firefighters, tow truck and plow drivers, maintenance workers, carbon dioxide monitors and public relations executives all in one. I’m thinking it’s daunting to keep tabs on the air inside that piece of engineering (Mary tells me that generally speaking, the air quality inside the tunnel is better than what we breathe down in Denver), much less go in there and rescue a stranded motorist. I’d be scared to smithereens to drive a snow plow.”I love my job,” she tells me.That’s not to say things are always perfect at the tunnel. There are 42 cameras that the folks in the control room use. Someone’s been watching the tunnel’s drivers 24/7 for 33 years now. And they see things in there. Like 10 years ago when Mary clocked a Corvette going 147 mph. We also talk about things drivers do that can stress our CDOT crews. For example, if you pull up behind several plows that are spaced across the entire road, don’t try to pass them on the shoulder. They won’t be there for a very long stretch, so be patient.If your car stalls out in the tunnel, don’t get out of your car and start walking around in traffic (yes, people do this). If you’re looking for a bathroom, sorry – the ones at the tunnel have been closed for 9/11 security reasons.

Since much of the trouble on the road, winter and summer, is caused by people in a hurry, leave early for your destination, then add another 10 minutes on top of that, she says, adding that we’ve got a helluva slate of summer road projects. Oh, and flaggers. You know one of the reasons why it’s good to slow down around road crews? Your tires get little rocks caught in them and fling them to God knows where. Mary tells me that while crews wear protective gear, getting hit with a pebble flung by a speeding car is like getting shot with a BB gun. But she adds that there are a lot of good things about those jobs, like being out in the Colorado sun.I have a feeling she’s been reading Brezsny’s book.Tara Flanagan writes a Wednesday column. She can be contacted at flanaganatlarge@yahoo.com.

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