by Carol Dunn
I’m a driver. I like nice roads. I don’t like the thought of a bridge collapsing while I’m driving across it (or under it). So I’m all in favor of road construction. I’m guessing that, over the past two months, there are a number of southbound drivers on I-25 who were NOT in favor of road construction.
According to a CDOT map, there are 10 road construction projects on I-25 as you leave Denver, eight of them north of Walsenburg. One project just north of Monument can back up traffic four miles for a 50-foot section of work. The workers laugh and point as you creep past.
So it was with great glee that motorists punched it as they got past the paving project south of Pueblo. They broke away from the pack, and it was open road. They were riding a Brahma bull across the wide prairie, the wind whipping through their hair, sailing along thinking they could possibly make up some lost time when BLAMMO, there’s Walsenburg. This wasn’t just road construction, it was a detour through town. The spouse was cranky, the kids had their heads on the floor and their feet sticking out the windows. They were ready to clean up their rooms and wash their hair – ANYTHING would be better than sitting in traffic AGAIN.
Over the July 4 holiday, there was an impressive four mile backup on I-25 as traffic exited onto the Walsenburg business route. The cars and trucks and motorhomes creeped up the hill toward what looked like the dropoff at the edge of the earth. For several delightful minutes, each and every traveler was treated to the smell of the sewage pond just south of the truck stop – although at the time most didn’t know it was the sewage pond and accused each other of “letting one go.” July’s heat does wonders for sewage, and this was the holiday traveler’s first impression of Walsenburg. The hilltop looked like a direct missile strike had split it apart, scattering enormous chunks of concrete. Through this split in the hill, the driver no doubt expected to be met either by a line of tanks or a rainbow, and instead saw a mobile speed display sign that told him he was going 0.728 miles per hour.
The driver and the passengers sure needed cold drinks and food. After all, they were expecting to be in Albuquerque by now. The driver said, “Find a place to stop and we’ll stop.” The kids’ eyes glazed over after about a mile. They were now certain they were going to die of thirst. Then in the distance, they saw a burger place and hope swelled in their hearts. Curiously, there was a line backed up clear outside the door – oh yeah, because there was only one cash register working, and sometimes it crashed. They dutifully stood in line and waited some more – hey this was just like the place they went on vacation to get away from.
Under duress, the kids got back into the vehicle, pleading with their parents to NEVER NEVER take another vacation in Colorado. As their car squeezed into the line of traffic heading south out of Walsenburg, the travelers noticed the movie playing at the theater: “Drag me to Southern Colorado.”