Fewer traffic lanes on Manitou Ave.
Town mayor touts safety, additional parking spaces in new configuration

       Manitou Springs' downtown renovation effort has begun with a project that reduces the number of lanes into town.
       Instead of the former four lanes on Manitou Avenue between Crystal Park Road and Minnehaha Avenue, the new configuration means two through lanes - plus a third lane in the middle for turning and (as needed by retailers) delivery drop-offs.
       The restriping followed a seal-coat overlay (expected to last four to five years) this month by the Colorado Department of Transpor-tation (CDOT), which has maintenance responsibility for Manitou Avenue be-cause it is also the Highway 24 business route. The state paid 60 percent of the $88,000 overlay costs, and the city picked up the remainder.
        Mayor Marcy Morrison told the Westside Pioneer that although the change will mean slower traffic through downtown Manitou, that's not necessarily a bad thing. It will help solve a longtime speeding problem and give motorists more of a chance to savor the town, she said.
       In just the week or so since the three-laning went in, “It's been quieter,” said Morrison, whose office at City Hall is close to the avenue.
       Another positive is the addition of nearly 100 parking spaces, “which is a big plus,” Morrison said. “There are so many events in (Manitou's) Memorial Park now, it was getting dangerous with the parking.”
        The decision is in keeping with a 1998 city-approved master plan, City Administrator Fred Bur-mont said. Research has found that other towns, such as Castle Rock, have been pleased with three-laning their downtowns, Morrison said.
        The lane reduction will also allow wider sidewalks, new street trees and historical lighting and add to the general appeal of Manitou, project supporters have said.
       The parking is parallel, as before. CDOT nixed the idea of switching to diagonal parking, believing that is unsafe in a three-lane scenario, according to Morrison.
       Downtown renovation work, scheduled to begin in July, will include the reopening of Manitou's Shoshone Spring, which has been closed to the public for more than 50 years.
       The downtown project is being funded through bonds approved last November by Manitou Springs voters, a land donation from Bill and 2 Chucks LLC and a grant from CDOT. Other partners in the project include the El Pomar Foundation, the Manitou Springs Mineral Springs Foundation and the Manitou Springs Economic Development Council.

Westside Pioneer article from a press release