City plans wider St. Vrain/18th access

       A city survey of the access betweeh St. Vrain and 18th streets has turned out happily for everyone except the owners of one property.
       The neighborhood in general can look forward to the currently barricaded access being reopened - first as a temporary one-way while awaiting reconfiguration to a full-sized street, and then as a permanent two-way once city workers can be mobilized to go there and widen it.
       Carin Willis and Nicholas Becker, of 421 N. 18th St. (at the southeast corner of the intersection), are the ones who will lose land - as a combination of the survey showing the right of way farther south than was previously thought and the city planning to build an access about 15 feet wider than it is now. Ironically, they are the couple who had asked the city to look into the safety of the intersection in the first place.
       City officials updated about 25 people on the situation at a neighborhood meeting May 3 at the nearby Bible Missionary Church.
       City Council member Jerry Heimlicher pledged at the meeting he would find, in either the city or the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) budget, the estimated $38,000 to pay for the work. “I'll see to it,” he said, after reiterating apologies for the city's having closed the street initially in March without first consulting the neighborhood.
       The availability of RTA funds was confirmed the next day by Dave Krauth, the city's principal traffic engineer - though adding that this was “so long as we don't discover any major changes during the final design.”
       Krauth had as yet no work-start date, but predicted that the barricade should be gone by this week. He added that the neighborhood would be shown what the final design will look like.
       Dick Carlson of City Traffic Engineering said that the city's survey revealed a 25-foot-wide city easement for St. Vrain at 18th, which will allow a “safe two-way access” in the future. The traditional connection between the two streets, reportedly dating back more than 100 years, was only about 10 feet wide.
       In an e-mail to the Pioneer, Willis explained that she and Becker had bought the house there two years ago, knowing about the access. She said they were not bothered by neighbors driving through the narrow opening and never sought to have it closed; what concerned them was other drivers barreling through there sometimes at high speeds and even going over the curb. When she and Becker called the city, “our vision was some slight curb improvements and perhaps a stop sign,” Willis wrote.
       The wider street at that corner, combined with the true right of way being farther south than formerly believed, will be about 20 feet closer to the Willis property than before. “The proposed 'correction' would place the curb at something like 12 inches from the corner of our fence,” Willis said.
       Becker said after the meeting that he and Willis have considered fighting the city's solution, based on prior use, but did not want to oppose a resolution that was desired by the neighborhood as a whole.
       Shirley Lippincott, whose parents bought the northeast-corner property in 1951, termed the city plan a “reasonable solution.” She recalled that back then most of the surrounding area “was a cornfield” and her family had lived in trailers on the back of the lot.
       One resident, Marc Jenesel, asked the city to put the access back the way it was, but Heimlicher responded that once city engineers had looked at it and determined it was unsafe, it was a liability issue that “can't be ignored.”
       Fred Bishop, a resident since '54, was nostalgic about losing the unique narrow access he'd always known, recalling it as a frequent example of driver courtesy. “Sure, you would get two cars at a time, but one would wait on the other,” he said.

Westside Pionee article