This is gonna hurt

Nov. 1, 2017

CDOT’s pilot project may blow up into war with drivers

One quick look at his foot and it was obvious. His eyes were swollen.

My oldest, Aidan, was sobbing in pain. He had been complaining of foot soreness for a couple of weeks, so I decided to zoom in on the problem. After examining, nothing seemed out of sorts, so I just thought it was a muscle strain caused by eight weeks of intense football practice and games. It became clearer the next day, when he came home from school and could barely walk on it. Thinking it might be a stress fracture, we put the situation in 911 mode and got X-rays. Negative, but the doctor seemed to think it was due to his growth plate. Apparently the heel bone was sprouting quicker than his tendons/cartilage, and it was creating a pull. The prescription was to ice it down and take ibuprofen. A week passed and there was no improvement, so we elevated the game and saw an orthopedist. Diagnosis: Negative (as in bad). Aidan was put in a boot and had to swear off any sports activity for two weeks. His football season was gone for good.

With practice and game time no longer in our future, the wall was now right in front of us. Feeling disconnected and blocked from his team (to no fault of the Panthers), the remaining weeks played out from a long distance. There was the first win of the season and the last game at Panther Field, both completed with no effort from Aidan. This “barrier” felt hurt more than anything.

People are getting sore over what the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is trying to do on I-225. In the agency’s attempt to add capacity on I-225 southbound in the Denver Tech Center, which is one of the worst bottlenecks in the region, an experiment will be conducted involving converting the shoulder into a third lane by restriping less than a mile from Yosemite Street to I-25. The plan also includes concrete barriers that will cut off access to southbound I-25, restricting drivers only to northbound I-25. Concerned residents in the area believe the blockage will create a traffic hemorrhage along city streets for those who want to access southbound I-25.

CDOT took the proactive approach by engaging with the public via Facebook Live. Most of the social medialites wanted to know how CDOT would monitor the traffic impact. Bluetooth will be used to track any problems, and the agency also reminded people that the pilot project was not a long-term solution, but one that fits its current budget and immediate need.

I completely feel for DOTs across the country in the fiscal pinch, where some are feeling the nails dig in. Where I am writing this editorial, Arlington Heights, Ill., it was announced there would be less money for road and bridge improvements in the state. However, turning a shoulder into a lane is like scheduling a whole line of disasters without knowing what days they will occur. It just takes one accident or stall to back up traffic, because you have one less emergency lane. However, more puzzling is the idea of physically blocking off a point of access. I feel this is simply a last-ditch effort to come up with some solution. Perhaps the agency has done its due diligence and has concluded the only answer is more money, which isn’t there. During the life of this pilot, the number of battles could be insurmountable. It might be enough to make a grown man, or woman, cry.

About The Author: Wilson is editorial director of Roads & Bridges.