The road west ...

... or east, depending on which way you're going. Or from whence you come.

So if you've been on US Highway 50 any time the last six months or so, maybe longer, you can't help but have noticed just how bad the road markings are, especially between Fowler and Manzanola. They aren't very good west of Fowler, either, for that matter.

In some places they are so faint as to be non-existent.

Driving home from Pueblo on these short winter days is a real white-knuckle experience. Actually, we first noticed it back in September, on our way back from our Great Sand Dunes trip.

It hasn't gotten any better, and a look at CDOT's news for CDOT Region 2 (southeastern Colorado) showed nothing about this.

So we used the form on the CDOT site to ask about it, last week:

Date of Occurrence: Jan 15, 2012 05:00 PM

Location: US 50 from west of Otero county line to La Junta

Comment: Are there any plans to repaint the road markers - the center lines and the lane lines on the shoulders - on US 50? In the stretch of highway cited, the lines are in very poor condition; in some areas, such as - but not limited to - MM 353 - 356 - they are pretty much non-existent. Most of the lines that are visible during the day are badly scuffed and/or flaking away, and seem to be of non-reflective paint. It is not hyperbole to state that this stretch of 50 is a deathtrap waiting to snap during the dark hours. We have noticed a significant number of drivers who do not dim their high beams and suspect that it may be because they can't see the road because of the marker conditions.

Response Necessary: Yes

I figured if I didn't hear anything in a week or so, I'd ask the question of CDOT's exec director, and copy it over to Hick. Not that I would expect such a thing to come anywhere close to Hick's desk, but at least I would have the opportunity to exercise Article 2 Section 24 of the state constitution.

Then yesterday I heard from Ms. Ajin Hu, a traffic engineer with CDOT's region 2:

Dear Mr. Steeves,

Thanks for contacting CDOT about the striping conditions along US50. As you indicated in your email that the reflectivity of the striping along this stretch of highway indeed is not in good conditions. However, there is a planned project along US50B from Pueblo to Manzanola to install rumble strip and reinstall epoxy striping. The project will start construction in April of this year.

There are a couple of planned overlay projects on US50B east of Manzanola too. These overlay projects will start constructions in the summer.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at 719-546-5751. Thanks again for contacting CDOT.

and then a second email:

Just wanted to update you.

Our crew is going to apply temporary paint along this stretch of highway if the weather is good next week. As I indicated in my previous email, permanent Epoxy paint will be applied in April/May as a part of the project. I hope this helps.


Ajin Hu, P.E.
Traffic Resident Engineer

Pretty good response, don't you think? Well ... I have no reason to doubt Ajin Hu, whom I believe is writing in complete good faith, but remember Nepesta Road's intersection with US Highway 50? Between the Pueblo County Commissioners and the CDOT honchos, it took the better part of a year to fix what had been screwed up for longer than that. Of course, that involved a Pueblo County business' non-compliance with safety requirements, and who knows whose campaign coffers and other political shenanigans may have been involved. This would seem to be a far simpler case: it's simply the state putting lines down on a stretch of highway, with no politics involved.

Update: Ajin Hu said the temp markings would be up, and they are, at least on the worst stretches. We went to Pueblo this past weekend (where we rubbed shoulders with a good many of our friends, neighbors, and members of the Smile Hi business community, but that's another story) and are happy to report that the temporary striping really makes a very positive difference.