US 24 Snowstorm Help Appreciated

Mike French, who lives in Colorado Springs, e-mailed CDOT on Tuesday, Feb. 17, to say thanks for help he received on U.S. 24 in the area of South Park on Sunday evening, Feb. 15 after a snowstorm swept into the area, from CDOT employee Randy Pilgrim, TM-I for Patrol 26 at Hartsel for Pueblo Maintenance Section 4, Region 2.

Weather up until that time had been warm, so the first precipitation melted on the highway.  But the cold temperatures that quickly followed froze everything.  And the snow continued.

French was driving, of all things, a 265-ton crane all the way across Colorado from Telluride to Colorado Springs.  The road conditions and weather became treacherous near Wilkerson Pass; he pulled the huge crane off to the side of the road.

Pilgrim first contacted French at that point as he was sanding and salting the road.  "We had plenty of slideoffs that night.  I told Mr. French that if he could wait right where he was, and I could help get a couple of other people back on the road and going, we would get him over Wilkerson and on down towards home," Pilgrim recalled.  "I sure didn't want to deal with what might have happened if that crane slid off the road and tipped over."

He got it all done, but it was no easy task.  "I put out about 13 tons of sand and salt on my shift that night and into the next morning," Pilgrim said.  "That's about the most ever for me in one storm."  He was covering about 30 miles of highway from Harsel over Wilkerson Pass and on down to Lake George and Florissant.

Accidents further down U.S. 24 in the canyon going into Colorado Springs had traffic backed up at Florrisant, but Pilgrim was able to escort not only the crane, but other vehicles as well, to that point, where they were able to get on to their destinations after the highway below was cleared.

"Randy went above and beyond to help me get home," French said.  "I wouldn't have made it home without his help.  I also witnessed him helping others on the road that night."

Pilgrim said he was happy to provide assistance.  "All of our employees in the area were out trying to keep the roads as safe as possible in that storm," he said.  "It was nice that Mr. French took the time to say thanks."

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