Sunday, August 21, 2011
Lynn began her journey, headed south today. Since she has to use all
of her flight legs or her whole ticket will be voided, she left via Grand
Junction Regional Airport on a 55 minute flight to Denver. I, on the
other hand, drove to DIA to meet her at the other end. I get to spend
more time with her and she has a car while at orientation. This plan
usually works well, especially if I leave a couple hours before her flight
and am able to meet her when she comes out of the airport.
Ah. Not so fast. The key word here is "usually".
The folks at the Colorado Department of Transportation have never been
on top of my "A" List. Over ten years ago, while driving the twisting and
turning Route 36 between Estes Park and Lyons every day on a 100 mile
a day commute, I wondered why there weren't reflectors in the middle
of the road. Every other state seems to use these. This is a major U.S.
Highway after all. However, in Colorado, even the interstates don't use
them. I wrote to the Colorado Department of Transportation (yes,
I'm one of those people...a trait I inherited from my father, who liked to
effectively bitch at people who are slackers) and asked them...why? To
my surprise, I received a response. They told me the snow plows would
remove/scrape them off in the winter. WHAT? They don't have snow
in Indiana? Illinois? Minnesota? I could go on and on listing the states
that A) Have reflectors on their highways and B) Have snow! To this day,
I find this response, and CDOT, to be LAME!
This brings me back to today. I was warned by a friend that there have
been backups on eastbound Interstate 70 between the Eisenhower Tunnel
(actually the Eisenhower–Johnson Memorial Tunnel and the eastbound
tunnel is the Johnson Tunnel...most people don't know that) and Denver.
Gotcha...Thanks Susie! So I left home at 1:30. Now, I've been known, at
least by myself, to have made this trip in 3:45. Yes, I sped, but this was a
while ago, and I figure the statute of limitations has passed on my speeding
crime. Anyway, I figure that 4:30 should be plenty of time. Again, thinking
logically gets me in trouble every time.
Smooth sailing...I even stop in Edwards for ten minutes. I cross Vail Pass.
A little rain, but no traffic. Copper, Frisco, Silverthorne....oops....a sign
over the highway...20 minute metering at the tunnel...Whaaaattt!!!!
A LOOOONNNGGGG traffic jam miles from the tunnel. I figure, ok...if
this will help traffic on the east side, then I'm all for it. A seemingly long
long wait later, I'm going through the tunnel. Smooth sailing. And then,
brake lights. Lots and lots of them. This is nothing new. I expected a
delay, but nothing like this. Remember, this is not the city. Any city.
There are probably no more than 100 people within a mile of the highway
anywhere near Interstate 70 in this part of the state. I'm now averaging
5-10 miles per hour! And that's when I'm moving.
Eventually, I make it to Denver and the airport. 6:30 later! Almost twice as
long as it should have taken!
I can understand why CDOT meters people going into the tunnel. They don't
want people to get trapped in the tunnel if there is an accident, fire, etc. and
making sure it's clear is their way to ensure this. Bravo for them...However...
Get off the stick and figure something out about the eastbound situation.
The biggest problem (ok, the BIGGEST problem is that people in general are
not as bright as we'd like to think they are...including drivers on the highways),
is that there are only two lanes on most of the route. Honestly, there are a few
places (the Georgetown area comes to mind) where the mountains are just too
close to the road and they can't make it three lanes. Most miles of the highway
however, have enough room for three lanes each way. Do it. Spend some of
the money from the gas taxes and DO IT. I don't know where the money is
going and haven't been able to figure that out for years. Obviously not on
the repair of our roads. When traveling, Colorado's roads are always the worst.
Oh, by the way, during the entire stretch, there wasn't any construction or
any accidents. Can't use that excuse for the backup, CDOT.
So Colorado Department of Transportation...in the words of Samuel Becket...