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Problems galore with blizzard

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By Steve Smith

To say it's been a tough day might be an understatement.

As advertised, a strong late-winter blizzard paid a visit to Brighton and the surrounding area March 13. It caused traffic accidents, including one in which a Colorado State Patrol corporal died, numerous spin-offs and pleas from law enforcement to stay off the road.

The Colorado State Patrol closed eastbound I-76 from U.S. Highway 85 east to the Nebraska line because of blizzard conditions. The crash involving the corporal happened on I-76 east of Keenesburgaround 11:30 a.m. Cpl. Daniel Groves died while he was investigating a slide-off. The CSP said a car drivem by James Carpenter, 58, of Centennial, lost control and struck Groves while the corporal was outside his patrol car.

Both men went to Platte Valley Medical Center. Groves was prounounced dead. Carpenter was receiving trreatment for what the patrol called "moderate injuries."

Emergency crews spent much of the afternoon shuttling people from their stranded cars to shelters. The city opened up the Eagle View Adult Center, 1150 Prairie Center Parkway, as a temporary shelter for stranded motorists. Brighton Fire opened its station in the 15900 block of Havana Street as a warming center, and the city opened its emergency operations center shortly before noon. The city also opened its call center to answer questions and storm concerns. The number is 303-498-1220.

Adams County issued a local disaster declaration late in the afternoon, which allows the Colorado National Guard to provide assistance and resources.

Winds gusted as high as 80 mph at Denver International Airport, and the snow blew sideways in many places. About 500 flights were canceled, Pena Boulevard was closed between 40th Avenue and the airport, the runways at the airport were closed (the concourse stayed open), and the airport went on accident alert, as did many cities in the Denver area.

27J Schools, city and county offices closed for the day. Those announcements came March 12 before the storm started. Several law enforcement agencies encouraged people to stay off the roads.

City snow-removal crews are on 12-hour shifts, according to street Supervisor Bob Younger. In nearby Weld County, CDOT and county crews stopped plowing roads for a time because of the blizzard and because of poor visibility.

"If you can, please avoid being on the roads," the city pleaded in a Neighborhood Watch post. "This helps our snowplows as we work to keep streets clear and also keeps you safe."

RTD canceled its flex ride service in Brighton because of the storm.

So far, there has been no word on whether schoools or city offices will open Thursday. We'll update later.