COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Colorado Springs is no stranger to gridlock.
But, in the estimation of CDOT managers, it’s not bad enough to warrant more help in the form of Safety Assist trucks.
A combination of 24 tow trucks and pickups are on patrol throughout Colorado – paid for through a partnership with State Farm – to arrive to a call site within “10 to 15 minutes,” according to CDOT. It’s an effective service, at no cost to those in need: the patrols responded to 28,935 incidents – a variety of car crashes, stalled vehicles, roadway debris – just last year, which amounts to faster commute times for drivers.
But, in a NewsChannel 13 investigation, data shows Southern Colorado is largely neglected for the service. One patrol truck loops I-25 from North Academy to South Academy, and Highway 24 during the week, according to CDOT and State Farm. There are no patrols on the weekends in Colorado Springs, and none in Pueblo – period. There are only patrols on I-25 between Monument and Castle Rock on the weekend.
Compare that to Denver, where there are 15 areas of patrol, according to State Farm:
- I-25 from 120th to Arapahoe
- I-70 from Wadsworth to Airport
- US 6 from Colfax to US 40 to Santa Fe
- C-470 from Wadsworth to I-70
- I-25 from Lincoln to Plum Creek Parkway
- I-25 from Hampden to Lincoln
- I-225 from I-25 to I-70
- I-70 from Pecos to Vasquez
- I-70 from Wadsworth to I-270
- I-25 from 58th to Colfax
- C-470 from Morrison Rd to I-70 C470 SH 58
- I-25 from 88th to Colfax
- I-70 from Pecos to Vasquez
- I-25 from 120th to 84th
- I-70 from Sheridan to Washington
If traffic fatalities were the factor in determining areas of patrol, El Paso County should – without question – get the majority of the service. El Paso County has upwards of 65% more deadly crashes than Denver County. Last year, El Paso County had the most fatal accidents in the state, at 76. Adams County came in second with 64 fatalities; Weld with 63; Denver with 46; and Arapahoe with 45. See complete list of deadly county crashes per county here.
Deadly crashes by city are a close comparison as well, with Denver having the majority at 46; Colorado Springs 39; Aurora 25; Pueblo 16; and Greeley 13. See list of deadly city crashes here.
But that's not how patrols are determined.
CDOT places patrols upon congestion rates. Data provided to KRDO NewsChannel 13 is not a direct apples-to-apples comparison, but two graphs show slower speeds at one Denver interchange than the totality of Colorado Springs' metro thoroughfare:
In email exchanges with KRDO NewsChannel13, CDOT managers admit, "We do know we could use additional patrols in El Paso County, including the Springs... but don't have the funding,” according to CDOT spokesperson, Bob Wilson.
When repeatedly asked if funding might change, or if criteria would change to re-allocate more patrols in the Pikes Peak Region, CDOT would not provide an answer.
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