Only 1 Westside intersection makes top 50 in PD’s most-dangerous list

       You often hear people say they feel safer driving on the Westside, that people in the newer parts of town drive like maniacs.
       Now there are statistics to back that up.
       Only one Westside intersection ranked among the 50 most dangerous intersections for 2004 in a recent report from Colorado Springs police. The crossing of Chestnut and Fillmore streets was 4th worst on the list.
       The top accident locations are determined by a formula that considers the number of accidents, traffic volume, fatalities, injuries and property damage.
       Ranked most dangerous for all of Colorado Springs was Uintah Street and Wahsatch Avenue.
       At Chestnut/Fillmore, out of 28 total accidents during the year, 5 had injuries and 23 property damage only. The daily volume of vehicles at that intersection was 33,500.
       The police formula gives this a rate of 3.11 - meaning that for every 1 million vehicles through the intersection, three to four people are likely to get injured.
       “The problem with Chestnut and Fillmore is the speeders trying to blast up or down the hill,” said Eddie Orff, city crime analyst. “And there's also a lot of traffic on South Chestnut because of the furniture store.”
       The police report additionally showed the most dangerous highway interchanges. The Cimmaron/I-25 interchange was second behind number one Platte Avenue/Academy Boule-vard. Fourth was the Fillmore interchange at I-25. No interchanges on Westside Highway 24 made the top 10.
       At Cimarron/I-25, there were 58 accidents last year, with injuries in 22 of them - a rate of 2.65. Fillmore/I-25 had 62 accidents in 2004, of which 14 had injuries, for a rate of 1.73.
       Orff listed three main problems with the Cimarron interchange:
       Northbound off-ramp - traffic often backs up (from the light at Cimarron) onto the interstate.
       - Southbound off-ramp - there's no merge lane to go eastbound on Cimarron.
       - People run the red lights around the interchange.
       - Drivers sometimes cut into the double left turn lanes for eastbound drivers turning left to go north on I-25.
       I-25, at and through the Cimarron and Fillmore interchanges, is slated for upgrades in plans by the Colorado Department of Transpor-tation (CDOT). Most immediate will be the work during the next three years to widen I-25 to six lanes through central Colorado Springs.
       Even though a CDOT-planned Fillmore interchange replacement will not occur during that time frame, just having six lanes on both sides of the interchange should make freeway driving there safer, Orff said.
       “We get a lot of crashes there now because northbound the road goes from three lanes to two,” he said. “People are picking up speed, and all of a sudden the traffic backs up. People start jockeying for position, and that sometimes results in sideswiping and rear-ending.”
       On the southbound side of the Fillmore interchange, problems occur for the opposite reason. Drivers occasionally accelerate too early, anticipating the third lane opening up just south of the interchange. When this doesn't happen as soon as expected, sometimes “they hit each other from behind,” Orff explained.
       Farther into the future, CDOT's plans (as yet unfunded) call for new interchanges at Fillmore and Cimarron. The proposal for the new Fillmore interchange would actually eliminate the present Chestnut/Fillmore intersection. Chestnut would swing west to meet Fillmore farther up the hill to provide separation from the interchange.
       Orff expressed surprise that Bijou/I-25 did not rank near the top of dangerous highway interchanges (as it often has in the past). With the short distance between Cimarron and Bijou, northbound drivers have only a matter of seconds to cross the exit-only lane for Bijou Street and merge into one of two interstate through lanes. He described it as a “driver beware” interchange.
       I-25/Garden of the Gods was 9th on the highway intersections list, with I-25/Uintah Street 10th. The former had 37 accidents, 7 with injury (volume 156,500), for a rate of 0.89. The latter had 22 accidents, 5 with injury (volume 123,500), for a rate of .71. Orff said these interchanges have shown safety improvements, thanks to upgrades within the past 10 years.
       The crossing of Centennial Boulevard and Garden of the Gods Road was ranked 53rd on the list of dangerous city intersections. It showed two injury-accidents in 19 total accidents at a daily volume of 46,000, for a rate of 1.37.

Westside Pioneer article