Two Westside streets selected for city ‘traffic calming’ efforts
Neighbors on Broadway, 17th working with city on plans
Anna England and Karen Pierce have not met, but they have something in common.
They are concerned about traffic safety - a concern which they and their neighbors have channeled into efforts that will bring city “traffic calming” projects to their respective areas in the coming months.
England lives off Broadway Street in the Midland area, Pierce off 17th Street in the older Westside.
When England applied to the city two years ago, it was because she'd had it with the speeders and late-night racers on the broad, flat street that goes by Midland Elementary. In addition, Broadway is often used by cars and trucks trying to circumvent Highway 24 between 21st and 26th streets - a problem England believes will just get worse as the major Gold Hill Mesa subdivision builds out in the years ahead.
“There have been four minor accidents in the last four years,” she said. “But a lot have gone unreported. It's a miracle - knock on wood - that there haven't been more. There are tons of kids on that street, on bicycles and on foot, and the traffic is blasting through the neighborhood.”
Pierce began coordinating the 17th Street effort after the original applicant five years ago (Tracy Vialpando) moved from the neighborhood. Pierce and her husband, Marc Jenesel, have front-row seats for the street's problems - they live off a turn between St. Vrain Street and Armstrong Avenue where near-misses are not unknown.
Complicating matters at the turn is that the sidewalk ends on one side, then continues on the other, inviting pedestrians to angle across at that point. “It's kind of spooky to see kids go across the street there,” she said.
The City Planning Office's Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (NTMP) chose Broadway between 21st and West End Avenue and 17th between Uintah and Bijou streets as two of three that will be addressed in the city-wide program this year, according to Kristin Bennett, senior transportation planner and NTMP manager.
A total of 23 applications were looked at. The two Westside streets scored strongly in the city's set of criteria, including speeding problems, higher-than-appropriate traffic volume and proximity to schools or parks.
Traffic calming is a term for slowing speeds or discouraging “cut-through” traffic on neighborhood streets.
Bennett recently held separate meetings with each neighborhood to explain the program and listen to ideas from residents. “There was a good group of people at both meetings,” she said.
The types of improvements are being studied by city traffic analysts, but they could involve medians, roundabouts, raised sidewalks or the “bulb-outs” similar to those at Colorado Avenue intersections in Old Colorado City.
City recommendations are expected to be ready by this fall, at which time city-neighborhood meetings will again be held to explain and discuss them. Even popular ideas are not immediately cast in concrete. The way the program works, proposed changes go in first as temporary configurations, to make sure that they will work, Bennett explained.
On Broadway, certain improvements are not awaiting further study. The city and neighbors have agreed to proceed with permanent striping for parking lanes and bicycle lanes, Bennett and England said. These are expected to go in sometime this summer.
While Broadway's width tempts fast drivers, 17th 's location makes it popular despite its narrowness. For traffic going east on Uintah, it is the first north-south street providing access to Colorado Avenue. For that same reason, the street is an official “fire- response” route, Bennett noted.
In addition, 17th Street goes past Buena Vista School between Platte Avenue and Bijou.
As a result, the number of vehicles per day is actually higher on 17th (2,100) than on Broadway (1,600), according to city figures.
Regarding the school, one improvement Jenesel would like to see is a flashing, 20-mph sign. Currently, people don't slow “unless they know the school is there,” he said.
Volume is not so much the issue on Broadway as the speeds, Bennett said. According to England, street racers there have been clocked as fast as 80 mph. “They line up late at night, two or three across,” she said. “That's why we need medians to stop that.”
At neighborhood meetings on traffic calming, Bennett says it's typical for people to ask for speed bumps or stop signs to control speeders. But these strategies tend not to be effective for that purpose: Stop signs can be ignored, speed bumps can be unpopular with neighborhood residents, and speeding between bumps and stop signs are typical driver behavior.
Police enforcement is effective, but speeding problems tend to resume once officers go away, according to NTMP information.
Westside Pioneer article