Changes in the works for bad intersection on Hwy. 82
Special to the Post Independent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Colorado Department of Transportation will look into changes at the Highway 82 intersection between the Sopris Restaurant and BMC West south of Glenwood Springs, said CDOT traffic and safety engineer Jim Nall.
“I think we’re going to look at it in terms of lighting improvements and signing improvements,” said Nall.
Two accidents happened at the intersection two days in a row in December. In both accidents, a vehicle was turning from Marand Road on the east side of Highway 82 in front of BMC West into the upvalley lanes and was broadsided by a downvalley-bound vehicle.
“It’s the worst intersection on Highway 82,” said Kurt Wigger, Sopris’ owner. “One accident after the other.”
The intersection is complicated because Sopris Restaurant has three access points from the highway to its parking lot. One is an entrance only, one is an exit only, and one allows cars to either enter or exit.
“Any time you have more access points, it creates more friction,” said Nall.
Some drivers also exit the Sopris parking lot and travel on the wrong side of Highway 82’s median, said Wigger, or turn left into his restaurant parking lot from the downvalley lanes, where there is no left-turn lane, he said. That makes the intersection dangerous.
Wigger said he has struck a deal with possible developers of the land west of his restaurant. Wigger would trade one of his Highway 82 access points to the developers. In return, the developers will build a downvalley left-hand turn lane into Sopris Restaurant’s parking lot, said Wigger.
The exact details of the exchange are not worked out, Wigger said.
Nall said he looked at the intersection in the past regarding multiple access points at Sopris Restaurant and signage near the intersection. CDOT is again considering improvements, said Nall.
In addition to more signage, Nall said he will consider putting some lighting at the intersection to make it safer.
“I’ll look at the lighting and do the signing for sure,” said Nall.
The challenge with lighting the intersection is to find a power source and a location for the lighting that will not create a hazard in the area, said Nall.
Nall said anytime drivers are required to make a judgment the chance for an accident exists.
“Eighty to 85 percent of accidents are human error, and we really can’t correct that with a signing or geometry change,” said Nall. But CDOT will still try to make safety improvements at accident-prone spots.
“We try to use anything within our toolbox to make the situation safer than it is,” he said.
Contact Ryan Graff: 945-8515, ext. 534
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