Hwy 24: City has interim plans for 21st & 26th
With state plans for an expanded Westside Highway 24 as yet incomplete and unfunded, Colorado Springs is working up interim plans of its own to improve traffic
flow and safety at the 21st and 26th Street intersections.
According to Scott Logan, head of City Traffic Engineering, the department's conceptual proposals have already passed the scrutiny of state engineers and the Citizens Transportation Advisory Board, and are slated to go to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) in September.
The plans call for the following:
26th Street - Adding a right-turn “storage” lane on northbound 26th; creating acceleration lanes for turners merging onto the highway from both northbound and southbound 26th; “offsetting” the left-turn lanes to improve visibility of oncoming traffic.
21st Street - Replacing the current, broadly curved right-turn highway access from northbound 21st with a new configuration that would allow an accleration lane. A left-turn offset is also planned.
Preliminary estimates put each of these intersection projects at $100,000 to $150,000. The earliest likelihood of implementation is sometime next year.
The upgrade ideas followed the release last spring of a 2006 city “dangerous intersections” list in which 21st and 24 ranked second and 26th and 24 ranked ninth. Both especially had issues with rear-end accidents, statistics showed.
“We know these are interim fixes,” Logan said of the proposed changes. “There might not be a cost benefit if the state project was going in next year. But it's not scheduled for at least five years. And we have these safety issues now. We can't ignore the top accident locations.”
The left turn offset aligns vehicles about two feet to the left “so you can see past and make a proper judgment,” he said. “We try to incorporate that into our intersection designs (around the city), and it's pretty successful.”
The storage lane would be created by widening 26th Street about 12 feet to the east and 80 feet south from the intersection. That would allow about eight cars to back up, if necessary, he said. But he thinks that's less likely to happen with a roughly 170-foot acceleration lane that would allow right-turners to merge with highway traffic.
Because of drainage issues near Fountain Creek, there isn't room for a storage lane for 26th Street southbound right-turners, Logan said, but at least an acceleration lane will help those motorists clear the intersection.
Under the current layout of 21st Street, which has a wide curve for northbound traffic right-turning east onto the highway, there can't be an acceleration lane because of the nearby bridge over Fountain Creek. But sufficient acceleration space would be freed up by bringing the right-turn lane straight to the intersection for a nearly right-angled turn, Traffic Engineering plans show.
Another benefit with the tight angle is that vehicles will come to a near stop before turning into the acceleration lane. This should also reduce the kinds of rear-end accidents that occur now, in which people looking back while in the right-turn curve (to check for oncoming traffic) don't notice the car ahead of them has stopped, Logan explained. With an acceleration lane, drivers can use their mirrors to watch oncoming traffic.
Information about these intersections, as part of an overall Public Works presentation, was provided to City Council at its informal meeting in a report detailing Traffic Engineering responses to the city's 15 top accident locations. According to the presentation, another Westside location on the list, Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street (ranked third), is to be outfitted with new traffic signals in 2008, in conjunction with plans by Colorado Springs Health Partners (CSHP) to extend Centennial south of that intersection.
Westside Pioneer article