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City to weigh traffic calming along Blake, elsewhere

Cars parked along Blake Avenue just north of the Bus Rapid Transit park-and-ride at 27th Street. Residents of the area are concerned that a tentative city plan to open a gate on Blake near Wal-Mart will increase traffic through their neighborhood.
Colleen O’Neil / Post Independent |

What began as an effort to study the merits of opening a gate that has long blocked traffic on the south end of Blake Avenue has grown into a broader look at possible traffic calming measures along several of Glenwood Springs’ busiest side streets.

City Council recently appointed a small study group to evaluate initial plans by the city to open the gate that has prevented through traffic between 27th and 29th streets near Wal-Mart since the Roaring Fork Marketplace was built in the mid-1980s.

The idea has been to allow for better traffic flow in an out of the new Bus Rapid Transit park-and-ride at 27th Street, and potentially to accommodate overflow bus commuter parking.

The project was budgeted to be completed this year, and would include street improvements to the short section of Blake behind the park-and-ride. However, some residents of the area and the newly formed Imagine Glenwood citizens group have asked for a closer examination of the plan before the city proceeds.

At the July 16 council meeting, the group submitted petitions with more than 130 signatures asking the city to consider “traffic calming and protection” on Blake and other side streets all the way from the downtown core to the south end of town.

Among the suggestions are to install more “pedestrian” street signs in crosswalks, in accordance with state laws that give pedestrians already in a crosswalk the right of way over vehicle traffic.

“These signs may help as passive calming and also help present a message to motorists that we value and protect our pedestrians,” according to a petition statement from the group, which is being headed up by Blake Avenue residents Sumner Schachter and Diane Reynolds.

Other suggestions include:

• Restriping faded crosswalks and the Blake Avenue bike lane.

• Additional stop signs on Blake in the downtown core.

• Add digital flashing pedestrian crossing signs at some of the busier intersections.

• Consider a posted speed limit of 20 miles per hour all along Blake.

• Consider digital solar-powered flashing speed signs on Blake, similar to the ones on Midland Avenue.

• Consider the pros and cons of speed humps on Blake, also similar to Midland.

As for the proposal to open the gate on the south end of Blake, the group questions whether doing so would create more traffic problems in the nearby residential areas than it would solve in the immediate area of 27th Street.

Rather than opening the gate, the group has suggested possibly moving it to the north side of 26th Street to prevent through traffic into those neighborhoods.

CITY POLICY AT PLAY

The recommendations and petition effort grew out of a public meeting sponsored by the Imagine Glenwood group in June.

City Transportation Manager Geoff Guthrie said the initiative is in accordance with a 10-year-old city “traffic calming policy,” which lays out a process for the city to consider such citizen recommendations.

After some discussions between Guthrie, city engineer Terri Partch, Schachter and Reynolds, the decision was made to go ahead and initiate that process.

“A majority of the signatures on the petition were from people along Blake, between Seventh and 25th streets, so we agreed the primary focus will be Blake,” Guthrie said.

However, similar calming measures along Cooper, Bennet, Palmer and connecting streets east of Grand Avenue, and Colorado and Pitkin avenues east of Grand, may also be discussed, he said.

“What we’re also thinking is that the Blake gate question is morphing into this same issue about traffic calming, and involves some of the same people,” Guthrie said, adding that will also be part of the larger study.

A formal city public meeting will coincide with Imagine Glenwood’s next scheduled meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18, in the Glenwood Springs Library community meeting room.

The meeting is one of the requirements of the city policy, “where city staff outlines next steps and solicits public feedback, and ultimately (city council) approval regarding downtown traffic calming measures,” Guthrie said.

BRIDGE PROJECT ALSO ADDRESSED

Guthrie said the discussion is also likely to get into traffic planning to prepare for the looming Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project, on which the Colorado Department of Transportation is expected to commence construction early next year. The Imagine Glenwood group also included concerns related to that project in its recent petition.

“We encourage council and the traffic commission to be particularly vigilant, proactive and protective of neighborhoods during the Grand Avenue Bridge detour and closure period,” the group’s petition statement reads.

The bridge project includes a detour for up to 90 days in fall of 2017 when the existing bridge is to be closed and removed to make way for the new one. The detour will follow Grand Avenue north to Eighth Street and a new connection west to Midland Avenue and out to Interstate 70 Exit 114.

One of the concerns is that motorists will try to avoid traffic back-ups on Grand during the detour by driving on side streets through the downtown area.

Two additional meetings this week will also focus on Glenwood Springs transportation issues. The city’s appointed Transportation Commission has its regular monthly meeting at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The Commission also has a work session with City Council at 5 p.m. Thursday to review the final draft of the city’s Long-Range Transportation Plan. That plan lays out several long-range projects to improve vehicle and pedestrian connections around Glenwood.

City transportation officials plan to be at the Aug. 11 Downtown Market with displays from the transportation plan, and will be available to take comments and answer questions, Guthrie said.


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