What the heck is up with the disappearing lane on U.S. Highway 550 just before the Iron Horse Inn? Did too many drivers end up in the pool at the RV park? I thought that the two lanes merging just north of the County Road 203 turnoff were just fine. Of course, the Colorado Department of Transportation didn’t ask me. Please illuminate us north Animas Valley-ers. – Patricia Martin
Sorry, but the old merger configuration was definitely not “just fine.” Action Line should know.
For the better part of a decade, U.S. 550 was the daily commute, and it was staggering to witness the number of near misses, discourteous maneuvers and oblivious drifting.
That lumbering RVs would blindly pull out into traffic did not help matters.
In a miserably short strip of road, motorists were supposed to merge from two lanes to one, which prompted motorists to jockey for position.
The highway itself became a pinch-point, and right lane traffic often crawled to a stop due to slowing cars turning into the Iron Horse Inn with no right-turn lane.
Meanwhile, outbound traffic from Animas View Drive could either cut across the stoplight-less intersection or drive north without the benefit of an acceleration lane.
It was a serious, dangerous situation. There were many accidents, some fatal.
“That pretty much describes it,” said our good friend Nancy Shanks, CDOT spokeswoman.
That’s why CDOT re-engineered the road so northbound traffic would merge long before the intersection.
You are going to have to merge anyway. Why not merge a couple hundred feet to the south where there’s plenty of room?
There are no crossroads, no cross traffic and no cross drivers just trying to get in front of a clueless Winnebago headed to Ouray.
So we waste a little asphalt. No big shakes. The merge is a huge improvement.
How are you supposed to enter the parking lot at the Riverfront Center next to the Discovery Museum? Signs are everywhere telling drivers they can’t turn right or left, either entering or leaving. I am pretty sure you can’t route drivers through another business’ parking lot. But that’s what you have to do by driving through the Burger King lot. Thanks for looking into it. – Brian
Action Line gladly took on this doubly dangerous assignment. Why doubly dangerous?
First, there’s the Camino del Rio / Main Avenue / 14th Street intersection, a risky and downright unpleasant place for anyone on foot, especially nosy columnists in search of truth and justice.
Despite the intersection’s proximity to the swinging footbridge and Animas River Trail, it’s a model of anti-modal.
Second, there’s the Burger King parking lot. Pulmonary peril prevails due to a thick miasma of Whopper fumes mingling with exhaust from idling cars at the drive-thru window.
Despite these hazards, Action Line checked it out. Indeed, there are many traffic signs. Three to be exact. However, all of them say “no left turn.”
The two no-left-turn signs flanking the Riverfront Center’s entrance are there for anyone foolish enough to think it’s OK to stop in the middle of northbound Camino del Rio and turn across two lanes of oncoming traffic.
The other no-left-turn sign is for motorists who are leaving the Riverfront Center.
It’s there to remind folks that it’s illegal, not to mention really stupid, to drive across the highway and over double-yellow lines just a few feet short of a complicated three-way intersection with a train crossing.
To enter the Riverfront Center, you will need to be southbound on Camino del Rio and turn right into the lot.
Likewise, leaving the Riverfront will require a right turn onto southbound Camino. There are no other options.
Unlike the Burger King menu, you cannot have it your way.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you hang a right into Burger King, which now offers hotdogs. It would be a turn for the wurst.