Maintenance District Committee proposes restriping avenue through OCC for two lanes, reverse diagonal parkingThe driving experience through Old Colorado City would be noticeably different under a conceptual restriping plan backed by representatives of the district's property and business owners.
The idea is to reduce from four to two the number of through lanes along Colorado Avenue between 24th and 27th streets. A third lane in the middle would be used for turns either way, temporary delivery parking and (possibly in part) a landscaped median.
The lane reduction would make room for on-street diagonal parking, which proponents say is easier to maneuver for most drivers than the current parallel parking. Another benefit would be nearly twice as many on-street spaces. According to research by consultant John Olson, the 2500 block alone would increase to 46 spaces in a diagonal configuration; it now has has 25 parallel spots.
“We've been talking about this for years,” said Jim Heikes, the committee chair, who is also a merchant. “I don't know why it's taken us so long.”
Added committee member John Georgeson, the changes would “slow traffic down and make Old Colorado City more like a destination.”
The approved option also shows a possible mid-block crosswalk, the intent being to provide a convenience for shoppers in what's a fairly long block. No discussion on this aspect occurred at the meeting.
In a separate vote, the committee agreed to pay Olson's company up to $400 to create drawings showing how the lane reduction/diagonal parking would look for the entire 24th-to-27th distance. The drawings are to be brought to City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager for her review sometime before the committee's September meeting.
Krager has previously told committee members she was open to lane-reduction possibilities - the city has supported the idea as a traffic-calming strategy elsewhere in the city - but wanted to see more of a detailed proposal.
Also attending the Maintenance District Committee's August meeting - and pleased with the vote - was Dave Van Ness, executive director of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group. He'd worked previously with Olson on Bancroft Park upgrades through the Old Colorado City Foundation and recruited Olson to work on avenue plans for the committee.
The lane reduction/diagonal parking concept is in keeping with the OCCA board's goals of slowing down traffic and creating more parking, Van Ness pointed out, adding: “I think all the merchants would be in favor.”
A unique feature of Option 2 is that it actually proposes “reverse diagonal” parking, in which a driver would need to stop in the traffic lane, then back into the space. A departing driver would then drive forward into traffic. The intent is to eliminate backing into traffic, a long-identified difficulty with forward diagonal parking. Heikes said he likes the “reverse” idea and thinks Old Colorado City visitors would too, but he is also OK with the forward way.
If the Maintenance District plan is eventually implemented, it could become the second lane-reduction location on Colorado/Manitou Avenue west of I-25. The first was Manitou Springs about 10 years ago as part of enhancement efforts for its downtown. A third site planned for two lanes and a center lane - agreed on last year as part of a lengthy public study process - will be Colorado Avenue from around 33rd Street to Beckers Lane, as part of a public improvement project funded primarily by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) in 2015-16.
The RTA lane-reduction design is still being finalized, but is likely to have a couple of key differences from Old Colorado City's. According to Steve Murray, the lead consultant for the study (called the Westside Avenue Action Plan), engineers are leaning toward a bike lane in each direction - not just on the uphill side - and any on-street parking would likely be parallel “due to the limited right-of-way within the corridor.”
Murray agreed that the RTA and OCC efforts “will have an effect on each other, especially with respect to continuous bike lanes.”
The next public meeting for the RTA project is anticipated this fall, but in any case it will only occur "after the agencies (El Paso County, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs) have reviewed the design," Murray said.
It is not known what public process, if any, would be necessary for restriping 24th to 27th streets.
In addition to Option 2, Olson presented the following options to the Maintenance District Committee:
- Option 0: Existing conditions (four lanes with a center lane, parallel parking and no bike lanes).
- Option 1: Four lanes without a center lane, leaving room for bike lanes on each side.
- Option 3: Two lanes with a center lane; diagonal parking on one side and parallel on the other, leaving room for bike lanes on each side.
Westside Pioneer article