Garfield County cops, crews deal with the storm’s aftermath

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – In the wake of the recent winter storm, area law enforcement officials and road crews are getting the mess cleaned up and preparing for the next wave of storms.

Capt. Richard Duran of the Colorado State Patrol reported a total of 31 accidents in Garfield County, both on Interstate 70 and State Highway 82, from noon on Dec. 7 to about noon on Dec. 9.

Only two of the accidents involved injuries, which were minor, and Duran was not certain on Wednesday exactly how many tickets were written to drivers involved in the accidents.

“We also responded to many motorists that slid off the road and needed assistance getting back on the road,” Duran wrote in an e-mail.

He indicated that there were no significant traffic disruptions due to accidents, beyond the occasional closing of a lane while a vehicle was towed back onto the roadway.

The Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, meanwhile, was getting back to “business as usual” following the storm, in the words of Undersheriff Colt Cornelius.

On Tuesday, after the area received the bulk of the snow overnight, Cornelius decided to close the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office and let the administrative staff stay home.

A normal complement of deputies were on duty, he said, mostly to provide back-up to the Colorado State Patrol for accidents, and to be available to help pull cars out of snowdrifts and respond to other types of emergency calls for help.

“From what I heard, they were busy,” said Cornelius, who was not in the office but was in contact with those on-duty, while standing in for Sheriff Lou Vallario.

Mostly, he said, the deputies dealt with “a lot of slide-offs and people getting stuck.”

There were no critical accidents that the deputies were called to, that he was aware of, he said. He explained that this is typical of storms that dump large amounts of snow and make drivers extra cautious.

“It’s those one-to-two-inch storms that are potentially more dangerous,” he said, because of the greater likelihood of melting snow that refreezes once the temperatures drop.

“It gets really icy, really fast,” he said of such conditions.

County road and bridge director Marvin Stephens estimated that his crews have cleaned up most of the snow left behind by the storm, with some cul-de-sacs in Battlement Mesa and a few isolated roads still to be finished.

“I think probably 80 percent of it’s cleaned up now,” he said Wednesday afternoon, adding that if it were to snow again on Wednesday night it could mean a delay before all the county’s roads are cleared.

According to Carbondale public works director Larry Ballenger, the town’s street crews contended with 14-18 inches of snow, though some claimed the depth got to 20 inches in certain parts of town.

“We have everything plowed to the center, and are in the pickup process right now,” Ballenger said of the state of the streets. “It usually takes three, three-and-a-half days to remove it all.”

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.