8th Street work to aid motorists, pedestrians
Project adding creek footbridge, sidewalk, longer NB right-turn lane to continue through September

       A long-planned project to ease traffic and pedestrian problems on a segment of South Eighth Street is scheduled to start next week.
       Expected to continue through the end of September, the project will accomplish the following, according to Colleen Dawson, civil engineer/ project manager with the city's roadway engineering division:
  • Install a 120-foot-long footbridge over Fountain Creek, just east of the Eighth Street traffic bridge.
  • Build a retaining wall along Eighth Street, in front of the Express Inn parking lot between the bridge and Highway 24.
  • Construct a sidewalk on top of the wall (there is no sidewalk now on the east side of Eighth between the creek and Highway 24.
  • With the help of the retaining wall and the removal of certain utility fixtures, extend the existing northbound right-turn-only lane (now 150 feet long) back to the creek bridge (a total of 400 feet).
           At times, the work will require closures of one Eighth Street northbound through lane, but there should be no other traffic impacts, Dawson said.
           The initial work, scheduled to start June 22, will be the relocation of a power pole. Any loss of service should only affect residents of the Express Inn, she said.
           The contractor, CMS Inc., will move in the following week, focusing first on underground and storm drainage work before moving up to the bridge abutments, retaining wall, the bridge itself and then the street work, Dawson outlined.
           The project plan was first brought forward by city traffic engineers in 2005, but all the necessary approvals were not provided until this spring. One reason for the delay was that the project has required reviews from four government agencies - the federal Hazard Elimination and Intersection Safety (HES) program (which awarded a $158,000 grant for the work), the state (which dispenses the federal funds), the city (which engineered the project) and the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (which has allocated up to $150,000 in traffic-safety funds).
           Another reason the work took four years to get started is that, from a planning and accounting standpoint, Eighth Street is not a solo project but lumped with three intersection-safety projects elsewhere in Colorado Springs, and that's how the job was actually bid out (CMS being the contractor on all four). Combining the projects was beneficial because individually each was too small to qualify for the federal HES funding; however, “it's a double-edged sword,” Dawson said, because, as a result, none of the four projects was able to move through the approval process any faster than the others.
           The two main problems the Eighth Street project would solve are cars backing up from the current northbound right-turn storage lane into the through-traffic lane and pedestrians having to walk in the street between Fountain Creek and the bridge. The latter situation causes a “potentially dangerous conflict between vehicular and non-vehicular users,” Dawson said.

    Westside Pioneer article