Can you clarify the recently enacted reduced-speed, double-fines Wildlife Crossing Zones on U.S. Highway 550? The posted signs say 55 mph, 5 p.m.-7 a.m., September-May. Is this September to May or September through May? And why slow down at 5 p.m. when in September, March, April and May, there is good light after 5 p.m.? Was this policy created by the same people at the Colorado Department of Transportation who came up with the Bridge to Nowhere? Tony
Its easy to blame CDOT for every transportational folly. But the oddly timed Wildlife Crossing Zones come from a different source: the Legislature.
House Bill 1238, also called the Curry-Schwartz bill, designates 100 miles of highway statewide for lower nighttime speed limits. Locally, the zones include sections of U.S. highways 550 and 160.
The new law has noble intentions: reduce the number of wildlife-vehicle collisions, which are a big problem.
Just ask Mrs. Action Line and her claims adjuster.
A couple years ago, she was hit by a deer. No, she didnt hit the deer it hit her.
Mrs. Action Line was inside her car at a dead stop. All of a sudden, a deer came running along, smacked into the front quarter panel and hood, and did about $5,000 in damage before bounding off.
Mrs. Action Line was miffed. She got out of the car and chased the beast, yelling, Get back here! You just wrecked my car!
She almost caught the dazed deer.
I was almost close enough to punch it in the nose, she recalled. And I would have.
It was then that Mrs. Action Line realized the folly of flattening felonious fauna. She returned to the crunched sedan and began making calls.
Mrs. Action Lines episode occurred on North College Drive. But for real animal-vehicle carnage, go no farther than the Animas Valley.
There were 257 accidents there from 2002 through 2006, with more than half of them wildlife-vehicle collisions. More than two-thirds of the collisions happened between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Obviously, we cant tell the deer and elk to pay more attention. Mrs. Action Line already tried that, and it didnt work.
We drivers have to slow down when wildlife is on the move. And thats pretty much between 5 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Those hours may not make much sense in shoulder seasons. But as the cliché goes, better safe than sorry. And just to be clear, the law is in effect Sept. 1 through May 31.
Do yourself and your insurance rating a favor, and give the wildlife that lower 5 mph.
Officials will revisit the statistics after a couple of years to see if slower speeds will reduce replays of Colorados least-favorite drama: Wildlife Close Encounters of the Thud Kind.
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Sometimes the Mea Culpa Mailbag gets a bit soggy. Such is the case after City Manager Ron LeBlanc announced his Guest Police Chief program last week.
He wrote: I had to rule out Kerry Petranek on a technicality because she builds water tools at StoneAge. After all, you cannot take a sewer jet to a gunfight.
That didnt hold water with the proud StoneAge crew.
When Jessica McClure fell down the well in 1987, Midland, Texas, rescuers used a water jet to carve away the hard rock and free her. Today, she appreciates the usefulness of water jets so much, she and her husband run a car-wash business, the group writes.
In 2009, crewmen on a Greek oil tanker used water jets to repel Somali pirates who were armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades, they point out.
On a local basis, when dealing with a raucous crowd of rafting and rope-swinging hooligans at the 32nd Street put-in, there is no better tool in the arsenal than a good water gun, the StoneAgers point out.
Ms. Petranek knows how to serve and protect firmly but safely. Sign us, All Washed Up in the Airpark.
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you can explain why its OK to punch cattle but not that dang deer that hit Mrs. Action Lines car.