Traffic feels pinch as 21st/24 project begins

       Highway traffic was frequently being reduced to one lane both ways this week as a long-awaited traffic safety project at 21st Street and Highway 24 got under way.

In a view west on Highway 24, crews can be seen June 22 reconfiguring the median for a new left turn alignment as part of a safety project at Highway 24 and 21st Street. Project completion is foreseen by late September.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The main work involves the following:
  • Offsetting the highway's left-turn lanes each way to allow better visibility for turners.
  • Changing the currently curving right turn from northbound 21st onto the highway into a right-angle to reduce rear-end collisions.
  • Adding a second northbound lane through the intersection to improve a situation where northbound traffic sometimes backs up to Bott Avenue.
           To minimize driving slowdowns, the work on the highway's left turns is taking place first, so as to get that part done before the heaviest traffic of summer, according to Colleen Dawson, an engineer with Nolte Associates, which is managing the city's RTA projects this year. “We're hoping crews can finish the left-turn lanes in the first couple of weeks,” she said. “That way we can get them off the highway as soon as possible.”
           No road closures are anticipated during the work, although there will be lane reductions on the street or highway, Dawson said.
           The project as a whole is expected to last through the end of September.
           The $225,000 project stems from a 2006 city ranking of dangerous intersections based on number and severity of accidents. Costs will be covered by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) roadway fund. The contractor is US Roads.

    A map displays the main upgrades planned at the intersection of 21st Street and Highway 24 as part of the current project.
    Courtesy of Nolte Associates

           The work is unrelated to a long-range state plan that would turn the intersection into a freeway-style interchange. Under the state's most recent scenarios, that construction has no certain funding and in any case is not foreseen sooner than 2030.
           The current project had been bid out late last year, but City Engineering had to postpone several of its RTA projects at that time (including 24/21st) because of a project management incapability related to budget cutbacks that included the loss of several employees. The RTA board voted in March to hire Nolte to provide project management instead.
           Dawson added that another 2006 dangerous-intersection project on the Westside (26th Street at Highway 24) is tentatively planned for next year. The work will also include offsetting left turn lanes.

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