Blake detour cutters continue to be a problem | PostIndependent.com

Blake detour cutters continue to be a problem

An upset driver gets out of his car near 8th Street and Cooper Avenue during the early evening rush hour on Friday evening.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Side-street backups caused by motorists trying to avoid the Grand Avenue bridge detour seem to be a here today, gone tomorrow kind of thing. Traffic jams vary depending on the level of police enforcement and public shaming.

Glenwood Springs Police are employing different tactics to try to head Blake Avenue detour cutters off at, or even well ahead of, the downtown pass.

This week, officers were stationed at the corner of Blake and Hyland Park North, at the northeast corner of Sayre Park. They held vehicles at the intersection and asked a few questions before allowing them to pass through.

“We asked our guys to put a presence in that area, in particular, because of the complaints we were getting about people running stop signs, speeding and blocking intersections,” said Police Chief Terry Wilson.

The latest tactic follows a crackdown last week in which only four vehicles at a time were being allowed to queue at Eighth Street to head west. That helped to reduce traffic during the evening rush for a couple of days, but on certain days it’s worse than others, Wilson said.

The shift in focus farther south on Blake was in part due to concerns about allowing Valley View Hospital patients and employees to get in and out of the hospital during traffic backups, he said. Orange flags have also now been placed on the stops signs by the emergency room entrance so that people know to stop in that location.

Wilson said the forced traffic stops at Hyland Park allowed officers to ask motorists where they were headed, and to suggest that if their intent wasn’t to access residences or businesses located east of Grand Avenue, they should stay on the Colorado 82 detour route.

Though police can’t keep people off of public streets, Wilson said, they can explain that attempting to jump the detour only serves to slow traffic down even more.

Blake residents are concerned about the number of vehicles getting off attempting to navigate the narrow, substandard section of Blake from 27th to 23rd streets.

“We call it the Blake narrows,” said Lois Wilmoth, who grew up at 2413 Blake and still lives in the family homestead.

Early on during the bridge closure and detour that began in mid-August, Wilmoth said she counted between 150 and 185 cars every half hour. It got to be too frustrating, so she stopped counting, she said.

“I’ve seen people pull out of line and just start passing on the right, so that anybody going south can’t even get through,” Wilmoth said. “It’s only 15 feet wide, and we have kids and other people bicycling and walking home when they get off the bus. I really worry about them.”

Residents of the area had suggested before the detour went into effect remedies such as making that section one-way southbound, or erecting barricades to discourage non-local traffic.

According to Glenwood City Engineer Terri Partch, no additional mitigation is planned for that four-block stretch.

“We are aware that cars are cutting through this area,” Partch said, noting that navigation systems often take people off the detour route during traffic backups.

“We have placed signage to try to discourage cutting through on Blake and Midland, but our signs have been ignored for the most part,” she said.

Diane Reynolds, who helped start the ad-hoc neighborhood group Imagine Glenwood, said she just wants motorists using Glenwood’s side streets to be cognizant that they are passing through a residential area.

“We understand that this is a required street for traffic movement within the city,” she said. “What we take issue with is the speed some of these people are going.

“It makes no sense to speed and hurry up so you can just wait in another line,” Reynolds said. “We just ask everybody who passes through our city to respect the rules of our community.”

The city has placed an electronic sign near the 12th Street trail crossing on Blake reminding people to slow down and to not block intersections.