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Boosted by neighborhood, city to design Colorado-Ridge T-intersection; but change not 'done deal'

       After hearing support at a recent neighborhood meeting, City Engineering plans to move ahead with T-intersection designs for Colorado Avenue at Ridge Road and for Ridge at Pikes Peak.
       The changes would result from closing the short segment of Ridge between Colorado and Pikes Peak. This would allow a stoplight at Colorado and Ridge that there wouldn't be room for otherwise, City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager and Transportation Planner Tim Roberts told close to 75 meeting attendees in the Howbert cafeteria.
       The closed-off segment - about 100 feet in length - would be replaced with a to-be-determined type of flood-control along with a pedestrian/bicycle connection.
During a neighborhood meeting Aug. 12 in the Howbert cafeteria, Tim Roberts, a city transportation planner, points to the part of an aerial photo that shows the segment of Ridge Road between Colorado and Pikes Peak avenues that's being considered for closure. North is up.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The rest of Ridge Road, connecting with the Garden of the Gods to the north and Highway 24 to the south, would remain open.
       “Today we were trying to find out if we should do this. It sounds like we should,” Roberts said at the end of the meeting. “We will proceed with a design for it and probably do a follow-up [with the neighborhood] to share our design and traffic counts.”
       However, that doesn't mean the Ridge-segment closure is a certainty, Roberts cautioned. The proposal is a spin-off from the ongoing Westside Avenue Action Plan (WAAP) study of upcoming avenue improvements funded primarily by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA). For the recent meeting, the city sent out about 400 postcards to addresses around the Colorado/Ridge intersection, but a citywide public meeting on WAAP is expected this fall, and it could atttract attendees who like Ridge the way it is, Roberts pointed out.
       According to neighborhood meeting comments, the current capability to drive up Ridge Road north from Colorado Avenue is popular with numerous weekday-morning commuters who use it as a shortcut to 30th Street or even I-25. Roberts' reference to updating “traffic counts” was in response to meeting attendees questioning a city assertion that drivers do not travel northbound Ridge very much. With that in mind, he cautioned meeting attendees that “there probably is going to be some resistance [to the change] from people who don't live in the
The Colorado Avenue/Ridge Road intersection is seen looking south from Pikes Peak Avenue last fall. In the foreground is the segment between Pikes Peak and Colorado that would be closed. Note how Ridge south of Colorado is not aligned with Ridge north of it - another problem for traffic planners if the segment were to stay open.
Westside Pioneer photo
neighborhood. So don't look on it as a done deal."
       The city does not favor Garden cut-throughs. Krager said she thinks that the new interchange at Cimarron/I-25 - scheduled for completion in mid-2017 - “will help” reduce those numbers.
       If the T-intersection plan goes through, Pikes Peak Avenue and Ridge Road would continue to have stop signs at what would be a three-way intersection, Roberts said. That news seemed to sit well with the neighbors at the meeting, some of whom mentioned problems with speeding along Pikes Peak.
       Another possible amenity would be improvements to Ridge Road north of Pikes Peak Avenue, including a sidewalk (none exists now). This could be funded through the city's “missing-sidewalk program," Roberts said.
       Also based on citizen feedback, the city will consider putting stop signs on Pikes Peak at 36th Street. That's because, if the Ridge-segment closure happens, motorists would probably use that intersection, taking a right at Pikes Peak, to access Ridge going north into the Garden of the Gods, according to Roberts. But the thinking is that only locals (and maybe some commuters) would go that way, or even know about it; tourists would be directed west on the avenue about a half-mile to the Garden access point at Beckers Lane.
       The WAAP plan for Colorado and Ridge includes installing a stoplight in each direction. According to Krager, one advantage of a stoplight, in conjunction with a signal that's also planned at Colorado and Columbia, will be to create gaps in traffic by occasionally stopping avenue traffic. This would be particularly helpful for people on side streets, in that the RTA project will reduce Colorado west of 31st to a single lane each way, she said.
       The city's stated position going into the meeting was that closing the Ridge segment was just an option; however, Roberts and Krager did point out that without that closure, a signal at Ridge and Colorado could result in traffic backing up onto Pikes Peak, which would be unsafe. “If we keep the leg at Ridge, it probably means we can't put a signal at Colorado and Ridge,” Krager said.
      The close proximity of Pikes Peak and Colorado at Ridge dates back many years. Roberts called it an “odd duck” of a layout. But he also described Colorado/Ridge as an “important intersection,” because of the part it plays in connecting people between Manitou Springs and Old Colorado City.
       Additional traffic for the intersection is expected at an unspecified point in the future, when state plans call for eliminating access to Red Rock Canyon Open Space from Highway 24 and making Ridge Road its only access (south from Colorado Avenue and under the highway, using a new underpass that would be built for that purpose).
       Local historian Mel McFarland said that the closure of the Colorado-to-Pikes- Peak segment of Ridge Road was previously suggested in the 1960s, but local objections at that time scuttled the idea.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 8/24/14, updated 8/25/14; Projects: General)

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