CENTENNIAL, COLO. - An early morning truck fire Wednesday on the Belleview on-ramp to I-25 is the latest in a series of serious, headline-making crashes along that segment of the highway in the last six months.
The crashes started in late May, when a tanker collided with a highway barrier near Orchard Road, causing a fiery crash that stalled traffic around the metro area for much of the day.
Then, last week, in nearly the same spot, a truck and its trailer jumped the median crushing another car also near the Orchard Road exit.
Wednesday’s truck fire happened about a mile away.
So we wondered, what’s up with that stretch of highway?
“I don't have an easy answer,” answered Eric Hurst, spokesman for South Metro Fire Rescue. “There's nothing that stands out as an obvious hazard...there are no curves there... there's really nothing that pops out of the ordinary...it's just the place accidents seem to happen.”
Yet, that stretch of I-25, between Belleview Avenue and Arapahoe Road has had a gloomy past dating all the way back to the 1950s, long before Orchard Road existed and the highway was more commonly known as Valley Highway.
Hurst showed Next a photo from 1959, where a truck hauling cattle flipped over near the area that would later become Orchard Road.
“Seventeen cows actually died in the accident and the result of that was a butcher came out and there was a community barbeque because in 1959 the Denver Tech Center looked a lot different than it does today,” Hurst said.
Since that 1959 crash, the stretch of highway has made news several other times.
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In 1985, a plane that left Centennial Airport tried to make an emergency landing and crashed on the highway. The pilot died.
South Metro couldn’t pinpoint an exact date, but in the early 1990s, another tanker crashed into the concrete barrier near Orchard Road. In fact, Hurst said, it rested only feet away from where the tanker crashed earlier this year.
“It's eerily similar to the same situation that we had this year,” he said.
In 1995, a U-Haul truck lost control of its brakes and slammed into another car along that same stretch.
Now in 2017, the stretch of highway has seen three separate high-profile incidents.
“I wish I had some kind of answer something creative or a name like Bermuda Triangle for it but I don't have anything,” he said.
Traffic on the highway has certainly increased in that area over the years.
A CDOT spokesperson told Next I-25 and Belleview is one of the most congested portions of the highway in the metro area, with an average of 266,000 cars passing through each day.
The next time you’re stuck in traffic, consider this. CDOT says on average for every one minute a lane is closed, it takes four minutes to return traffic back to its normal pace.
The agency is working to improve that number with more resources to get accidents off the road faster by clearing accidents quickly when possible.
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