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This week’s question comes from the trenches

One of the filled-in “trenches” around Durango that contains new fiber optic lines. This one is at the intersection of East Second Avenue and 11th Street. (Special to Action Line)

Dear Action Line: When are the city’s contractors going to fully repave the parts of the street where they cut into the concrete with that massive saw blade earlier this spring? As I careen down 12th Street on a bicycle and make a hard right onto Main Avenue, the two gravel trenches I have to cross are nothing short of perilous. The loose, uncovered substrate in the two grooves feels like trying to cross a set of perpendicular railroad tracks – a famed hazard to bicycles. Happy to say I have not fallen, but I credit that only to the exceptional hazard-avoidance skills I picked up as a city cyclist growing up in Portland, Ore. – Still an Upright Citizen

Dear Upright: Thinking back a few months, it’s really a good thing these channels in the road didn’t exist when the Sepp Kuss parade was held. Hundreds of cyclists were all over downtown Durango that October day, and no one – the host city officials, emergency responders and, of course, the cyclists on parade – would’ve enjoyed one of those ugly chain reaction takedown crashes. Yeah, it’s worse when it happens in the Vuelta a España at 40 miles per hour, but still …

For those who might have missed it, locally raised pro cyclist Kuss won the Vuelta in 2023, and was feted by Durangatangs young and old who were excited about this international success story.

There are many excellent cyclists around these parts, professional and amateur, but not all are skillful or fortunate enough to stay on the seat when encountering unexpected road hazards. So it’d be nice to get this fixed.

One of the filled-in “trenches” around Durango that contains new fiber optic lines. This one is along East Second Avenue south of 11th Street. (Special to Action Line)

Let’s cover the “why” before divulging the answer. Action Line, you may know by now, does not subscribe to the standard news story “inverted pyramid” style, where the important information is right at the top, and the less important bits of information would be about right here. That would be kind of boring. Would you still be reading if you already knew the answer?

The street carving was for a good cause, if you believe that fiber optic lines fall into this category. Ting Internet was installing fiber optics throughout town, and these lines must be buried, but not so deep as to interfere with Durango’s planned subway system. (Oh, woops, maybe you’re not supposed to know about the subway. Never mind.)

Joey Medina, the city of Durango’s public works operations manager, said the road patching is currently underway.

“The city’s engineering division and I met on May 3 with all the contractors that are involved in the fiber projects that are occurring throughout the city,” Medina said. “Patch-back operations on these areas throughout the city are currently underway and will continue throughout the summer months until they are completed.”

He mentioned the perennial problem of having to wait until recently for weather to warm enough for asphalt to become available from a local plant. Cold asphalt is the worst.

Action Line noticed Wednesday that the 12th and Main intersection, at least the part that concerned Upright Citizen, was already patched. See how Action Line gets things done?

So, all will be back to normal eventually. In the meantime, wear your seat belt or helmet, and prepare for a little bit of turbulence. And please return your tray to its upright and locked position.

An issue still on the plate

Black license plates are filling up Colorado roads, as Action Line wrote about last week. We are by far not the first state to think black plates are cool, and not the only state to obsess about the tags we attach to our vehicles.

As a reader with Delaware connections pointed out, the Blue Hen State has had white lettering on black license plates since July 1941. “They are wildly popular and a subject many residents discuss often. If President Roosevelt and the Delaware state legislature of that time are responsible for Colorado instigating a deep-state status more than 75 years later, then I'd like to hear the connection.”

(The deep-state connection suggested by last week’s questioner could not be proved. Or, to be fair, disproved.)

Some Delaware plates are popular collectibles, and can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Collectors know that the World War II years (1942-1945) caused states to save metal and make smaller or unique plates. Also, fewer plates were needed because fewer cars were manufactured – planes and ships and munitions were considered more important than taking the fam for a Sunday drive.

Illinois and Montana even went so far in that period as to issue license plates made of soybean fiberboard. It was a fine idea. Particularly for the hungry dogs, pigs and turkeys that gobbled them up.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. To be clear, Action Line does not condone eating license plates. At least not without a little salt. Or soy sauce?