Pedestrian relief is goal of bridge plan for Eighth Street at Fountain Creek

       People walking along the east side of Eighth Street have to take their chances in the street these days between Fountain Creek and Cimarron Street/ Highway 24.
       City engineers have been developing plans to fix that safety problem. A 6-foot-wide, 120-foot-long pedestrian bridge over Fountain Creek, coupled with about 80 feet of new sidewalk just north of it, are the key elements of a project using Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) funds that could begin construction late this year.
       The $185,000 proposal, which still needs the blessing of the RTA board, would combine with an already-approved city project to lengthen Eighth Street's northbound right-turn lane to Cimarron, according to Bob Kenny, senior engineer for Colorado Springs Traffic.
       Funded by a federal grant, the turn-lane work had been deemed necessary because right-turn traffic “backs up a lot into the through lane,” Kenny said.
       It was while field-reviewing this problem that engineers discovered the sidewalk shortcoming. “A lot of pedestrians pretty much just walk in the street,” he said. Bicycles also face a tough squeeze, because there is no bike lane, either. And, the problem keeps worsening because of increasing development in the Eighth Street area, Kenny noted.
       The west side of the traffic bridge has a sidewalk, but there is no space for one on its east side. North of the bridge there is also no space: An embankment goes down from the street to the hotel parking lot. So engineers came up with a plan to install a new bridge just east of the street bridge and build a retaining wall north of it to allow room for a sidewalk between the street and the hotel lot.
       The only questions about the plan to date have concerned whether the proposed 6-foot width was sufficient. Dan Cleveland, executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition and a member of the RTA citizens advisory committee, was not sure if that would allow enough room for two bicycles to pass each other.
       However, after checking the site with City Traffic engineers, Cleveland said he planned to recommend approval of City Traffic's proposal. “I went out with my tape measure and, much as I would like it wider, there was no room,” he said. Also, greater width is not a necessity because the route is not part of the city's bike plan, he noted.
       But what really impressed him about the site was the dangerous conditions for people on foot. “Right now there's nothing,” Cleveland said. “It's horrible.”
       The city expectation is to hire one contractor to do both the right-turn lane and the pedestrian-upgrade projects together. No timetable has been set, but it will take up to 14 weeks to get a bridge built to the necessary specifications before it can be installed, Kenny said.

Westside Pioneer article