OWN cites 21st St. island in request to mayor, council for more Traffic Engineering outreach
Concerned that a new traffic island on 21st Street was installed without Westsiders' input - and may even be unsafe - the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) is asking the city for a process to ensure that doesn't happen again.
A letter from OWN President Welling Clark, approved by OWN board members this week, will go to Mayor Steve Bach and City Councilmembers, he said.
The document alleges that the island project “is an example of a systemic lack of neighborhood involvement and notification” and asks the mayor and council for “assistance in the establishment of a city-neighborhood process for city traffic engineering projects similar to that of the implemented Land Use Review (LUR)… process.”
The raised concrete island was installed by the city in September in the center (turning) lane of 21st just south of Cucharras Street. The island shapes a left-turn lane at Cucharras for northbound 21st Street. Light-reflection markings are on posts facing in either direction.
The issue came up at the OWN board meeting Nov. 17 at the Westside Community Center. Clark told the board that motorists are hitting the island on a regular basis. “Every time the city puts the reflectors up, they get knocked down again,” he said.
A City Traffic official had told the Westside Pioneer in October that the main purpose of the island was to correct an observed problem in which some motorists were using the center lane to pass cars during back-ups. A related city staff concern was about the safety of people crossing 21st at Cucharras, which is now part of the interim Midland Trail route.
Clark's letter states that the LUR process involves no cost to the city and “works extremely well by maximizing public involvement in the beginning land-use issues; residents can provide feedback and have a say in what affects their neighborhood.” He de-scribed this as a “proactive approach” that can resolve issues before being implemented or having to be argued before council.
“OWN understands the need for emergency action by staff with regard to public safety,” Clark's letter adds. “However, the Westside has been a part of the city for 80-plus years, and the likelihood of a new sudden safety problem is remote.”
The letter lists past issues in which Traffic Engineering has had to make changes after public outcry, including the initial access closure of 18th and St. Vrain in 2007, a proposed traffic circle at 17th and Boulder streets in 2008 and the bicycle sharrow-marking plan for Colorado Avenue this year.
OWN is the city-recognized advocacy group for the older Westside.
Westside Pioneer article