A Florida man who came in too hot approaching the Gros Ventre Junction roundabout structure on slick roads late last week has been cited and told he must appear in court.
Yonal Alexandre, a 39-year-old from Orlando, was estimated to be traveling at 35 mph when he entered the roundabout headed southbound around 11 p.m. Thursday. Instead of turning, the truck he drove went straight, resulting in snapped wooden rails and destroyed stone pillars in the middle of the recently completed Highway 89 crossing structure.
It’s unclear if anything in particular caused the crash, other than driving too fast for the conditions, Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Matt Brackin said. Alcohol wasn’t a factor and Alexandre didn’t report being asleep. Visibility was also fine, he said.
“From everything that I saw in the crash report,” Brackin said, “there wasn’t anything that would have adversely affected visibility to see the signs or recognize that there’s something coming up in front of him.”
The Wyoming Highway Patrol, which headed the investigation, issued Alexandre a citation for speed too fast for the conditions. It’s a bondable ticket that carries an $80 fine.
Separately, Grand Teton National Park also cited Alexandre.
“We cited him for failure to maintain control,” spokeswoman Denise Germann said, “and we made it a mandatory appearance.”
Germann said the court date is “unknown.” She was unsure of the maximum penalty for the code of federal regulation allegedly violated.
Gros Ventre Junction, site of a $5.8 million redesign in 2018, has sustained serious damage. To help pay for repairs, Grand Teton is seeking funds through the System Unit Resource Protection Act, which can provide reimbursement or restitution for damage to park resources. Completing a damage assessment and coming up with a repair bill could take a full year, Germann said.
The crash is the second to damage the Gros Ventre Junction roundabout since the structure was completed a year and a half ago. The first crash, Brackin said, was a hit and run between a vehicle and one of the stone barriers circling the structure.
Brackin said people branding the roundabout unsafe are getting ahead of themselves.
“I don’t see the roundabouts being a safety issue by any stretch of the imagination,” Brackin said. “I think that it’s alleviated safety issues with traffic in general.
“This was a pretty generic accident, other than the damage that it caused,” he said. “I know it’s kind of a hot topic, because it’s a new roundabout.”
Germann also stood behind the safety of the structure. Changes to the Gros Ventre Junction design, she said, are not being considered at this point.
“The original design was with traffic safety highway individuals and the Federal Highway Administration,” she said. “We’ll do the assessment and go from there.”