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High number of traffic deaths on U.S. 287 has Boulder County residents demanding changes

Our Colorado: Residents demand action
Posted at 12:09 AM, May 02, 2018

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ERIE, Colo. — Navigating traffic in Colorado has become a daily challenge as the state deals with a booming population.

But motorists on one stretch of highway in Boulder County see more than just increased traffic — they're dying. 

Fatal accidents have become all too common on U.S. 287 in Boulder County. 

In the last two and a half years, there have been 13 fatalities on a nine-mile stretch of the highway from Lafayette to Longmont, according to the Colorado State Patrol.

The most recent crash occurred early Monday morning, killing two.

Erie resident Jeff Drugmand has seen the change in Boulder County firsthand and his neighborhood has experienced it through tragedy.

"Whenever we first moved into this area, Erie still had dirt streets," said Drugmand.

More people and cars mean more traffic. And for Drugmand, it means more danger.

"People drive 70 mph, and there's no center line divider. So, people get distracted, crossover or run the light," said Drugmand. "Without a shadow of a doubt, there's something wrong with this section of highway." 

Roadside memorials — wooden crosses draped with pictures, flowers and letters — dot the highway.  

Stephanie Sosa Rodriguez’s memorial marks the spot where the 23-year-old died in a head-on crash in August 2017. 

Drugmand can recount a few of the names etched on the wooden crosses. 

Years ago, Drugmand’s neighbor was driving her young daughter to dance class.

"A pick-up truck crossed the center line, hit the mini-van and killed the little girl," he recalled. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation told Denver7 the majority of recent crashes on U.S. 287 were caused by drivers crossing the median. Impairment was another significant factor. 

State Rep. Mike Foote, D-Boulder Co., believes more people on the roads have something to do with the number of accidents.

"We've seen the effects of that just by more traffic, and also I think it's led to some of the accidents that have occurred," said Foote.

So what's being done? 

Improvements to the intersection of Arapahoe Road and U.S. 287 will begin in 2019. Locals say it's a painfully long amount of time to wait.

In the meantime, area leaders are working with CDOT to find more ways to make it safer. 

Foote said legislators are planning to do more with the transportation funding in the budget.

"We could have a wider median in some spots, some intersection improvements and we could have more turn lanes in different areas," said Foote. "I think we will be able to get there, but it won't happen overnight."