Two serious traffic crashes in the past two weeks have state officials defending speed limits along Interstate 25 between Colorado Springs and Pueblo.
The Colorado Department of Transportation continues to investigate the cause of a semi-truck rollover accident Tuesday that injured the driver, damaged six vehicles and created daylong traffic headaches on the highway near Motor City.
Troopers with the Colorado State Patrol cited alcohol and fatigue as factors in another rollover crash south of Fountain earlier this month. Three passengers died, and the driver was injured.
The Motor City crash was in a section of the highway that has two sharp curves and has been the site of numerous accidents. Flashing lights and signs alert drivers to the curves.
However, both agencies agree that lowering speed limits alone won't make driving on the highway safer. The speed limit ranges from 55 to 65 within city limits and increases to 75 in rural areas.
"We try to set speed limits based on what (speed) people are going," said Eric Lundberg, a CDOT traffic engineer. "It creates a constant traveling speed among drivers so that you don't have a lot of discrepancy with different speeds. If we lowered the limit, we'd probably end up with more accidents."
Sgt. J.R. Mullins, of the State Patrol, said he's seeing an increase in drivers who are distracted by using cellphones and for other reasons. He says drivers are responsible for being alert and driving safely.
"In fact, that's required by Colorado law," he said. "Just because a speed limit is posted doesn't mean you can drive at that speed if conditions are less than ideal."
Lundberg said the best way to address the sharp curves near Motor City is by straightening them out. That will happen next year, he said, when a project to upgrade the interchange at Interstate 25 and Cimarron Street begins.
The project will take two years at a cost of $95 million.
A proposed project in Pueblo will widen a stretch of the interstate and replace several bridges to improve safety. Past crashes in the area helped bring the project about.