Blake Avenue redesign aims to make drivers ‘miserable’ to use as a bypass
There were two big takeaways from the Blake Avenue redesign concept open house in Glenwood Springs on Monday. One is that the city plans to make commuters uncomfortable using Blake to avoid Grand Avenue.
“Blake should be a miserable road to drive on if you’re a commuter,” said Glenwood Springs City Engineer Ryan Gordon. “We want to make Blake a one-neighborhood-type street. We don’t want Blake to be a commuter road.”
Gordon said the redesign will aim to turn Blake Avenue back into more of a residential street instead of a bypass for Grand Avenue.
“This should be a road that when you drive from north to south, or south to north, you’re okay going 20 miles an hour and stopping at every intersection,” Gordon said. “It’s not a, ‘Let me rush through town as fast as possible.'”
One way the city plans to slow traffic and deter drivers from using the residential street as a detour for traffic on Grand Avenue: make 24th through 27th streets all one-way, at the request of the residents who live on those streets.
Gordon said that the road is too narrow on those streets to keep a uniform bike lane and wider sidewalk, along with a two-way road. Making it a one-way will discourage through traffic while keeping it safe for pedestrians, bicyclists and residents who live on those blocks.
“We heard from a lot of different residents throughout the corridor that traffic is moving too fast, there’s too much of it, so they don’t feel comfortable riding their bikes,” Gordon said.
City staff is also working hard to not cut into anyone’s yards for the project, whether the city has the right-of-way for the property line or not, Gordon said.
“In order to expand to two lanes in each direction (from 24th to 27th streets), we would be going into people’s front yards, potentially taking lawns and trees and fences,” Gordon said. “That doesn’t make sense to us. Our goal is not to take people’s right-of-way.”
The second takeaway was that residents are feeling like the city staff is actually listening to them for this project.
“I feel like they’re listening to us, so I felt a lot better,” said Bobbi Hodge, a Blake Avenue resident.
She said that sometimes she gets the impression that the city thinks that their idea is “the public good.”
Traffic calming was something she was most happy to see, with a lot of new children in her part of the neighborhood and she said that after a dog got hit and died a few years ago, she is happy that traffic will be slowed and reduced.
Hodge said she’s noticed how the city staff implemented many of the suggestions residents requested from the previous open house. She wasn’t the only one.
“I think it’s great that they’re listening to us,” fellow neighborhood resident Barb Corcoran said. “Being able to give everyone feedback directly, and seeing that they’re really paying attention and writing stuff down is nice.”
Corcoran uses Blake in her daily commutes for walking and driving. She said she is happy the city will be repairing the sidewalks between 13th and 27th streets, and that the city will be making the sidewalk wider in places.
“There’s a lot of places where the sidewalk ends, and then where it’s really too narrow,” Corcoran said.
Issues they mentioned included Hodge being concerned about bulb outs being added to intersections because they will reduce parking spots where there are a lot of smaller units which require more cars, while Corcoran was concerned about parking spaces near Sawyer Park widening the street too much.
Other big aspects that people should know about the Blake Avenue redesign project are that there are more pop-up events this week and there is a survey people can fill out until Oct. 1 at https://cogs.us/753/Blake-Avenue.
The redesign will happen in three phases with four sections of design.
There will be 6-foot sidewalks and bike paths, with 10-foot travel lanes.
The city plans to maintain the existing trees and improve parking, and the intersections will have bulb-outs for better Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility and safety for people needing to cross.
The city will also be using the redesign to upgrade storm, and sanitary and water line infrastructure.
Phase one of the construction will begin in 2024, phase two construction is anticipated for 2025 and phase three is anticipated in 2026.
The final pop-up is Friday from 4-5 p.m. in the Defiance Church Parking Lot, 2306 Blake Ave.
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