Truck uproots Midland planter 2 weeks after SUV crash
Post Independent Staff
Midland Avenue’s planters continue to be a smash hit with motorists in Glenwood Springs.
A pair of planters that survived being rammed by an SUV two weeks ago didn’t fare so well Wednesday, when a concrete pumping truck ran into them and reduced one of them to rubble.
The truck far exceeded the allowable vehicle weight limit for Midland, Police Chief Terry Wilson said.
Five pairs of planters had been placed in the middle of Midland Avenue in an attempt to slow, or “calm,” traffic in what is a residential area.
“Well, at least they eliminated one,” said Steve Damm, a Glenwood resident who has been a vocal critic of the city’s planter experiment.
But planter supporter and City Council member Chris McGovern said the accidents only reinforce the point that people need to drive more carefully on Midland.
In the accident two weeks ago, a woman drove her vehicle into the planters when she reportedly reached for something and became distracted.
In Wednesday’s accident, a truck driven by Jose Sedillo, 44, of New Castle, struck the planters at about 6:45 a.m. while heading north, Wilson said.
He said Sedillo told an officer that someone on the sidewalk was walking a dog on a leash, the dog jumped off the sidewalk, and Sedillo hit the planters while swerving to avoid the animal.
Wilson said motorists driving the other way didn’t recall seeing a person or dog on the sidewalk but couldn’t conclusively say neither was there.
Sedillo was arrested for careless driving, operating an oversized vehicle on a restricted road, and driving with a license under cancellation or denial. He was released on bond from Garfield County Jail Wednesday.
Wilson said Pumpco Inc., of Denver, the owner of the truck, also could be charged because of Sedillo’s lack of a license.
Sedillo was driving an 86,000-pound truck on a road limited to vehicles under 10,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight, Wilson said.
He said overweight trucks are allowed on the road if they need it for access. However, Sedillo was headed to the Glenwood Meadows construction site, which has alternative access available.
Damm said he has watched a school bus have to slow to about 10 mph to squeeze between the planters and tree branches along the side of the road.
“It’s getting to the point now where they’re dangerous,” he said of the planters. “Even other folks have commented on how dangerous they are to pedestrians.”
“I don’t know if it’s reasonable or logical to try to calm traffic over there any more than it already is. If that was their objective I think they’ve created a bigger public nuisance than they did a benefit to the community,” he said.
Damm said he hears from a lot of people, including Midland residents, who support his point of view. But McGovern said her e-mail is running about 40-1 in favor of “keeping safety in the forefront” on Midland.
“The whole reason that safety measures need to be taken is there have been accidents at people’s driveways. We’re looking to protect people,” she said.
“I think perhaps the police department needs to go out and monitor speeds” on Midland, McGovern said.
Wilson said police wrote two or three traffic tickets on Midland on Tuesday.
“We get over on Midland and do traffic enforcement as much as we can with the staffing we have,” he said.
“I know we’re still writing speeding tickets so I guess it hasn’t slowed everybody down,” he said of the planters.
He said he can’t remember the last time an accident on Midland involved a car entering or leaving a driveway. But he supports the goal of traffic-calming on Midland and elsewhere in town, and is reserving judgment on the planters approach.
“We’re always about traffic safety. Whether this is the answer or not I don’t know,” he said.
Wilson said the location of the pair of planters in question may need to be reconsidered, after two accidents occurred there. They were placed near a curve in the road.
But he added, “We’ve had two accidents early on. If we moved structures because of the fact that they get hit by cars, we’d have had to close Grand Avenue a long time ago.”
Vehicles frequently hit the guardrails on the south side of the Grand Avenue Bridge. Likewise, decorative light posts downtown are frequently run over, Wilson said.
“You can’t prevent, totally, poor driving; you can’t prevent inattention to driving,” he said. “… Poor driving can definitely be the major player in hitting stationary objects.”
Wilson said he frequently and safely navigates Midland, despite its planters.
“I’ve driven past them a whole bunch of times and I’ve got to say, knock on wood, I’ve successfully avoided hitting them every time I drove by, and I don’t consider that a great feat of skill.”
The city had placed the planters at the recommendation of a group of Midland residents. It has yet to plant anything in the planters.
Residents initially had proposed 15 planters, but a miscommunication resulted in the city ordering 10. City manager Jeff Hecksel said officials will consider how things are going before deciding whether the last five will be installed, or the destroyed one replaced. The city is spending around $10,000 on the project.
“We’re evaluating whether these things are working or not. Obviously we would hope nobody would hit them but we have had two accidents,” Hecksel said. “We also have had an accident where somebody hit a telephone pole but nobody’s talking about taking those out.”
That accident, last week on the south end of Midland, was unrelated to the planters.
Hecksel said the underlying problem of speeding on Midland has to be addressed one way or another.
“It would be nice if we could plant a police officer out there but we can’t,” he said.
City Council is properly sympathetic to the concerns of Midland residents, and if the planters weren’t put in, speed humps would have been, Hecksel said.
“Given those alternatives we felt like the neighborhood came up with a very creative proposal,” he said.
If the planters don’t work, they would be easier to remove than speed humps, he said.
Council backed off the idea of using speed humps in part because of concerns that they would slow response times by emergency vehicles.
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