Grand County Road 804: Too steep, too narrow, too fast
A woman who worked as an emergency and administrative nurse for 32 years is on a mission to make a dangerous county road in her community safer.
Kathy Kielkopf lives on County Road 804 ” that winds up the hill behind Safeway in Fraser. Twice last winter she saw accidents from her living-room picture window.
One was a head-on collision. Drivers survived.
Another car, strained to summit the icy and steep hill, “spun so much it caught on fire,” Kielkopf said. Beyond those two accidents, she’s also seen a number of close calls ” including her own.
Her home is midway up the curvy z-shaped route that snakes behind Safeway. Pulling out of her driveway onto the 25 mph stretch takes an act of courage, with some cars barreling at 40 to 50 mph.
As for the notion road rage doesn’t exist in Grand County, Kielkopf differs.
More than once audible obscenities from impatient drivers have been directed to her as she held up traffic trying to turn into her driveway.
“They don’t want to be slowed down,” she said.
The county has responded to the road danger by conducting an engineering study, applying thorough maintenance, putting up “slow” signs with flashing lights and creating a “pedestrian-bicycle” lane. Monitoring cameras for road conditions are also planned for the road.
But so far it hasn’t been enough, Kielkopf said. She feels her concerns have fallen on deaf ears. More enforcement is needed while continuing development in the Winter Park Ranch area adds more cars to an unfit road, she said. Drivers are using the bicycle lane as a passing lane.
Using a tally counter, Kielkopf clicked 300 vehicles in one hour last summer.
During winter, traffic includes four public buses an hour.
“The first couple of years I lived up here it wasn’t so bad,” said the four-year, full-time resident. “But it has gotten so much worse, not only from a traffic standpoint, but pedestrians, too.”
Grand County’s master plan, currently being updated with public input, designates the Winter Park Ranch area as a growth area with many more acres slated for future development.
Winter Park Ranch is accessed by both CR 804 and CR 8 north of town.
A community wildfire protection plan identifies emergency exits from this county growth area as problematic.
County officials have said expanding CR 804, a road that has been around since as early as the 1950s and paved in the 1970s, would not only be cost prohibitive, but would encroach on private land. At least one house might interfere with correcting the road’s grade.
The road travels from a zero to 10 percent grade in one-half mile past Kielkopf’s house.
If her house were in the way of a better road, Kielkopf said she’d sacrifice what was needed if it meant saving a life.
In the absence of a crosswalk and with the number of pedestrians negotiating travel at the bottom of CR 804 ” between condo complexes, a bus stop, the grocery store and the river path ” Kielkopf feels it’s a matter of time before someone is killed by a speeding vehicle.
“Last year, a lady was pulling a baby in a sled down there, and I was just horrified,” she said.
Kielkopf spent Saturday going door-to-door in her neighborhood, seeking signatures for a petition that asks the county to put in a three-way stop, crosswalks, a lowered speed limit and pedestrian sidewalks at the bottom of 804 are past due.
Kielkopf was successful in gaining signatures from the first three people she asked. One from a neighbor and two from residents at the Winter Park Lodge condominiums. They agreed there was a safety problem on the road, and Lodge residents added that a view-obstructing bush on the county road should also be removed.
By the end of Saturday, she had 14 signatures.
Asked if she’d ever done this type of thing before, Kielkopf said no, she hadn’t.
“I’d never been unhappy with other neighborhoods I’ve lived in,” she said.
” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Grand Lake is accepting applications for the municipal lands master plan committee through Dec. 15.