City to remove Midland planters |

City to remove Midland planters

Dennis WebbPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – The city of Glenwood Springs plans to begin uprooting its Midland Avenue planters next year.The city plans to spend this year doing planning to replace the planters with curbed median strips, with work to start next year. It would proceed for a few years afterward as funding allows, meaning some planters could remain in place during that time, said city engineer Mike McDill.The planters were installed in 2005 in the middle of Midland to try to slow traffic. They drew criticism from the start from residents concerned about safety and aesthetics. Two vehicles struck planters within weeks of their installation, although motorists appeared to adjust to them after that.As for aesthetics, “I don’t know of anybody that liked the looks of them,” said Larry Heinrichs, a member of the city’s Transportation Commission.He is happy to hear the city is considering a change on Midland.City manager Jeff Hecksel said Midland residents have preferred median strips all along, but they weren’t something that could be put in place immediately.”The planters were put in because they were inexpensive and they were fast (to install). I don’t think anybody thought that those planters were a permanent solution to deal with traffic-calming on Midland Avenue,” he said. The planters’ effectiveness in slowing traffic speeds has been a matter of some debate. A study by the city last summer found that the average motorist travels 5 to 8 mph over the 25-mph speed limit, but traffic generally slows down 1 or 2 mph to go around each planter.”Planter” may be something of a misnomer. The city never put any plantings in the plain concrete boxes. McDill said there were concerns about watering and maintaining any vegetation, and the possibility of deer feeding on plants and being hit by cars.The median strips would have vegetation, but would be wider, meaning any feeding deer could stand on the strips rather than in the street, McDill said.McDill would like to see strips as wide as 8 to 10 feet, so breaks between them could be used as turning lanes for homes along Midland. However, the city needs to look at what right of way it has now along Midland, and how much the road could be widened in pinch points without requiring big retaining walls on the Red Mountain side. It also will be necessary to preserve driveway accesses.The city plans to seek public input on the median strips during this year’s planning process.Steve Damm, who lives and works in Glenwood and commutes along Midland each day, has been an outspoken critic of the planters since their installation. He generally favors what he has heard of the city’s new plans for the road.”I guess I wouldn’t be opposed to that if they’re actually going to widen the lanes,” he said. “It sounds like they’re going the right way.”Damm and other planter critics say the Midland lanes are narrow enough now that some motorists have to drive off the edge of the road to get around the planters.He said the median strip approach sounds safer than planters, but added, “I don’t think it will do anything to calm the traffic any more than they have.”McDill said the city has about $150,000 budgeted to spend this year for planning the median strips and about the same amount available to build one of the strips next year, maybe around 13th Street.He is not aware of any specific plans for the planters once they’re retired from service on Midland. One possibility would be to use some of them as a part of the improvements being considered for downtown – but just not in the middle of any streets, McDill said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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