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Drill Crew Helps Motorist on Wolf Creek

Eric, a resident of Lakewood, CA, was living out a dream of his - to go on an RV trip with his family.  He borrowed a 24-year-old RV and set out from the Los Angeles area through Colorado and on for what would be a multi-week trip.

All went well until he was trying to coax the RV up Wolf Creek Pass on U.S. 160 on July 10.  He wrote, "I was traveling about 10 miles an hour when my RV stalled about 600 yards from the top of the pass."  He was stalled in the slow lane, and while vehicles could easily get around the RV in the passing lane, the 45 minutes they spent stalled there no doubt seemed like an eternity.

David Novak and Brett Jones, two members of the CDOT Materials & Geotechnical Branch drill crew, who were working on a project in the area, happened upon the stalled RV.  Novake noted, "It was a very hot day with the steep grade causing the old RV to vapor lock.  We set up Brett's semi/lowboy with the drill rig behind the RV as protection."

Novak, Jones, and the California resident spent some time troubleshooting the problem, then decided that if they could get the RV to the summit of the pass, the vapor lock problem would probably be alleviated.  "I hooked up a chain, then towed them to the top with my vehicle, a Ford F-450 drill support truck," Novak recalled.  "We showed Eric where the gas filters were and how to clean them out, made sure the vehicle started, then continued on our way."

The California family continued on for the rest of their trip without incident.  "I greatly appreciated their assistance and can't thank them enough," Eric wrote.

Novak and Jones were in the area working on a project in which CDOT's Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is replacing several old variable message boards.  They were there to provide geotechnical information for the ITS project designer Alvin Stamp, and they had both drill rigs in operation for the project.  "We started at New Castle, then down U.S. 50 to Montrose, then to Ouray, Silverton, and Cascade, then Cortez, Hesperus, Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek Pass, Del Norte, Monte Vista, Alamosa, and finishing in Ft. Garland." The crew was in process of relocating their drill rigs from Pagosa Springs to Wolf Creek when they spotted the stalled RV.

In their work, Jones, Novak, and their co-workers Agustin Moreno and Marty Howtin come in contact with lots of motorists who are having difficulty.  "We get a lot of thank yous as we help get people on their way, but we rarely get a nice e-mail like this,' Novak added.

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