(PUEBLO COUNTY, Colo.) — It’s been over a year since two parents lost their children to a car crash at an intersection in Pueblo County. They have been trying to get the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to install a traffic light at that location, but CDOT is now saying no.
CDOT conducted an extensive study at the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and 36th Lane in Pueblo County, in which engineers concluded that “the safety of these intersections did not warrant a signal installation.”
Ahead of a meeting on Tuesday, March 7, where CDOT will present these findings, one mother feels that this study has completely demeaned the death of her children.
Within the span of ten days, five people were killed in car collisions at the intersection of U.S. Highway 50 and 36th Lane. Two of them were the son and daughter of Christopher Roberts and Rachel Frazier.
“I made a promise to her on her deathbed that there would be a stoplight here because we can’t do this to nobody else,” said Roberts, with tears welling in his eyes.
CDOT is now responding with its planned improvements, which include cautionary alerts and installations to improve visibility, but no traffic light.
“CDOT even indicated that… when there’s one more loss of life at this intersection, the next step is a stoplight. So if the final solution for this intersection should be a stoplight, why don’t we just do that first?” questions Justin Fox, the great uncle of the children that died in the car collision a little over a year ago.
CDOT says while a traffic light will reduce side impact/angle collisions, the reason why they will not implement it is that it would instead increase rear-end collisions.
“With rear-end accidents, at least most people live through them… Side impact collisions at 65 miles per hour… Most people don’t live through that. At least one person in that vehicle’s going to die,” said Roberts.
According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, among the various types of car crashes, angle collisions were the leading cause of death. In 2020, there were ~8,000 deaths caused by angle collisions and ~3,000 deaths caused by rear-end collisions.
A memorial with three crosses on one side of the highway, and two flower wreaths on the other side still stand, as a reminder of the lives lost at that intersection.
“I am living a parent’s nightmare… I think about them constantly, all day, every day, I think about the accident… I don’t want to see any more community members lost. I don’t want to see any children’s lives lost. The stoplight will be the answer,” said Frazier, who lost her children and her grandmother in a crash at that intersection.
On Tuesday, CDOT will hold an open house from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at Vineland Middle School to present their improvements to the community. Originally, it was for leaders and community members to voice their opinion but was changed last week to be an educational display.
“CDOT is silencing the community,” said Roberts.
The night before the open house, the principal of Vineland Middle School reached out to Frazier and Roberts, telling them that they will still allow a space outside for the community to voice their opinions.
Roberts is hoping that CDOT officials will let members of the community voice their opinions inside.
“It’s not our job to bury our children…. everybody wants a stoplight out here. They know the need for a stoplight here. They’ve seen death after death here,” said Roberts.
A virtual presentation of the information at the open house will be available on the project website. People can also visit the project website to submit comments or contact the project team through their phone number 719-691-7106 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds of people are expected to show up to Tuesday night’s meeting, which FOX21 will be covering and will provide updates.