CDOT made right call on I-70 jam |

CDOT made right call on I-70 jam

A week ago Monday, drivers heading west on Interstate 70 from Glenwood Springs encountered one of the worst traffic jams in recent memory.The backup started around 4 p.m., and slowed to total gridlock by 5 p.m. It wasn’t long before West Midland Avenue, Highway 6 & 24 and Grand Avenue backed up as well.Some motorists chose to tough it out, and spent an hour creeping west before they broke free of the blockage. Others found things to do in Glenwood Springs, and headed west later in the evening.Traffic didn’t flow freely until after 9 p.m.Plenty of people were steamed over the inconvenience. But the actions of Colorado Department of Transportation officials the next day went a long way in making up for the trouble.CDOT Region 3 director Owen Leonard and maintenance supervisor Weldon Allen first issued a press release explaining why the delay occurred. A few hours later, they issued a letter of apology to motorists.Leonard and Allen stepped right up and accepted the blame for what was a long, hot and miserable evening for hundreds of people.They explained their reasoning, and frankly, it made sense.CDOT had started a chip seal project on the interstate, but the pavement didn’t cure as quickly as expected. Rush hour started, but opening the lane to traffic would have damaged countless cars with tar and thrown gravel.Although the traffic jam sucked up precious time in the day of hundreds of commuters, they would have spent far more time dealing with damages to their cars if the lane had been opened too soon.CDOT also immediately canceled the chip seal project, with plans to assess how it could best be tackled at a later date without posing such a huge inconvenience to travelers.Maintaining highways is more an art than a science. Unexpected things happen, and transportation crews have to roll with the situation.In this case, CDOT made the right call in keeping the lane closed. More importantly, top CDOT officials clearly explained why the delay happened and apologized for it. They were honest and up front, which goes a long way toward building our trust with the folks who keep our highways safe for travel.

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