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Does Durango mail go to Lithuania? Or maybe to Sinaloa?

From the Wunderground website. (Action Line screen grab)

Dear Action Line: I wanted to get Durango’s 10-day weather forecast using the wunderground.com website. So I typed our local ZIP code in the search bar. Not only did Durango appear, but also Kursenai, Lithuania. Apparently, we share the same postal code. Could this explain why some of my mail gets lost or delayed? Since “local” mail is now postmarked and sorted in Albuquerque, might there be some confusion about 81301 Colorado and 81301 Lithuania? – Oliver D. Map

Dear Oliver: Kursenai and Durango have quite a bit in common. First, they are both fairly small towns. The Lithuanian city has about 11,000 residents, making it the 25th most populous town in the Baltic country. Durango has about 18,000 people, which places it 42nd among Colorado cities.

Durango is famous for its train and bicycles. A train line runs near Kursenai, and about 15 miles away, in Siauliu, there is a Bicycle Museum. So one can see how these places get confused, and those common ZIPs don’t help.

Here’s something a bit more unsettling, however. If you type in “81303,” you not only get Durango and Kursenai, but also a municipality in the province of Sinaloa, Mexico.

Sinaloa is home to a slurry of drug lords, “narcotraffickers,” and the infamous Sinaloa Cartel in the city of Culiacán. Let’s just say that if you think your mail got lost in Sinaloa, don’t go searching for it.

Action Line, hoping to make sure that the ZIP code is where our connections with Sinaloa end, and that we don't have Sinaloan drug lords hanging around Durango, contacted Bob Brammer, Durango’s chief of police.

“I was unaware of the ZIP code commonality,” Brammer said, calling this, perhaps facetiously, “the most interesting Action Line yet.” “We do have illegal drugs here, which are connected to cartels, so we cannot completely rule out a connection. It is just not a partnership.”

What Oliver really wants is a ZIPpy answer as to whether his mail is being directed to a country at odds with its neighbor, Russia, or even to a region threatened by drug cartels. Action Line tried to reach the Durango postmaster for a response, and was horribly unsuccessful.

Anyone had any luck lately getting a live human being by telephone at the local post office? It seems impossible, if not unlikely. Several times Action Line’s calls were “transferred to the operator,” who never answered. Action Line is not naïve enough to believe there is an “operator” at the Durango post office. That’s just silly.

An email went unanswered, and in-person attempts failed as well. Anyone at the Postal Service is welcome to contact Action Line to shed more light on this subject or with a rebuttal. Like newspapers, the Postal Service is an easy target for those who need someone to get mad at. All in all, really, USPS does a pretty decent job. But check your postmarks.

Dear Action Line: From one scribe to another: 1) Why do motorists need to know they are approaching a damaged guard rail? I don't plan to hit it whether it is damaged or brand new! 2) Why do motorists need to know when wildlife fencing begins and ends? Shouldn’t the sign be turned so the wildlife can see it? – Larry E. Whiteside

Dear Larry: Good to hear from you. For those who don’t know, Mr. Whiteside is a longtime radio voice and outdoors shop manager around here. He could probably drive most of the local roads blindfolded and hit nary a guardrail. By his second question, Action Line wonders if maybe Mr. Whiteside has taught the critters to read. Neat!

Lisa Schwantes, communications manager for Colorado Department of Transportation Region 5, “remembers well this Radio Dude” and his “long-standing presence ... in our community.” So she was happy to hunt down her co-worker experts for help.

Now that we have Larry buttered up, let’s pop out some answers.

To start, CDOT’s deputy superintendent of maintenance, John Palmer, noted that guardrails are super-important for driver safety. The rails form a barrier to help protect motorists from drifting off the road, and absorb the force of an oncoming vehicle, lessening the severity of a crash.

So, why the signs to warn of guardrail damage?

“The guardrail that is damaged is no longer ‘crash worthy,’” Palmer said. “It’s our responsibility to let the driver know about this damage, which we hope will also encourage them to be aware of their surroundings.”

Also, the signs are a reminder for CDOT crews to fix the damaged guardrail as soon as possible.

On a related note, Action Line thinks it’s sad that Durango has no bumper cars around. The last such place was in the Bodo area, but the proprietors got mad if you hit someone too hard, and what fun was that?

As for the wildlife fencing signs, CDOT Wildlife Biologist Mark Lawler said these again serve to warn drivers to proceed with caution, and be aware of everything around them – particularly critters.

“The ‘fence ends’ signs provide motorists advanced warning that there may suddenly be deer or elk on the roadway since the exclusion fencing, which prevented their entry onto the roadway, is no longer present,” Lawler said. Wild animals will instinctively follow the fence lines.

Schwantes admitted that CDOT has not yet figured out how to teach those critters to read. Action Line, always the matchmaker, suggests maybe contacting Mr. Whiteside for tips.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. For Monday, a high of 54 is expected in Kursenai with some possible afternoon showers. Also, you weren’t the only one who thought of “Seinfeld” when you read “crash worthy.”

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