Neighborhood group wants cars funneled to Grand Avenue |

Neighborhood group wants cars funneled to Grand Avenue

Evening rush-hour traffic builds on Blake Avenue at 10th Street Monday evening. Residents of the area are requesting additional "traffic-calming" measures along that stretch to slow motorists down and make them more aware of pedestrians.
John Stroud | Post Independent

One objective for a group of Glenwood Springs residents seeking extra traffic calming along Blake Avenue and other downtown side streets is to try to alter motorist awareness about how best to traverse the middle part of town.

“We’re only asking traffic to behave for about one mile,” said Diane Reynolds, one of the leaders of the Imagine Glenwood citizens group that wants to ease traffic on residential streets that also serve as secondary north-south routes through Glenwood’s core.

Especially as the Grand Avenue Bridge replacement project begins next year, Reynolds said it will be critical to funnel traffic onto Grand Avenue leading up to the construction zone and during the planned fall 2017 detour onto Eighth Street and Midland Avenue.

“When you have an unconstrained construction zone, drivers act like ants and go anywhere there is an outlet,” she said.

Reynolds, who lives on Blake herself, said the city must work with the Colorado Department of Transportation ahead of that project to put adequate traffic controls in place to prevent that from happening.

To bolster her case, Reynolds points to the fact that Grand Avenue has become far less residential over the years compared with the side streets on either side of it.

An informal count she conducted revealed only about 20 structures along Grand south of the main downtown area that are still used as residences. Most of those are clustered along the west side of Grand across from Sayre Park.

“There are a few hanging on between 10th and 14th streets,” she said, while many of the houses that used to serve as residences have been converted to commercial uses.

Highway 82 as it runs through Aspen has seen a similar conversion of its historic old Victorian-style homes to commercial use, Reynolds observed.

There, she noted that the city puts out orange barriers during the evening rush hour to keep traffic on 82 rather than allowing motorists to find shortcuts through residential neighborhoods.

But Blake Avenue, in particular, even though it runs through several residential neighborhoods, also serves as a secondary artery through town, Reynolds acknowledged.

Several large employers and high-traffic businesses and institutions, including City Market, Valley View Hospital, St. Stephens School and Colorado Mountain College, add to the traffic volume.

“I’ve talked to people who work at the hospital who say they use our street to get out to Glenwood Meadows during lunch,” Reynolds said. “There’s not any other ward in our city that has the amount of commercial through traffic as we have.”

City of Glenwood Springs officials hosted an Aug. 18 community meeting to address the Imagine Glenwood group’s traffic calming suggestions. Among some of their ideas are to:

• Restripe faded crosswalks and the Blake Avenue bike lane.

• Install additional stop signs at intersections that don’t already have a four-way stop.

• Add more “State law, yield to pedestrians in crosswalk” signs, and consider pedestrian-activated flashing signs at busier intersections.

• Consider a posted speed limit of 20 mph on Blake and other side streets.

• Consider speed humps on Blake, similar to those on Midland Avenue.

City Transportation Manager Geoff Guthrie said some of those measures are already in the works, and were to be discussed by the city’s Transportation Commission at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday morning.

Guthrie suggested at the Aug. 18 meeting that some of the “low-hanging fruit” fixes could be implemented more immediately, such as repainting crosswalks and bike lanes and ordering more “yield-for-pedestrian” signs.

Some of the other recommendations may require a more in-depth study of traffic patterns to determine where some of the calming measures would be most useful, he said.

Another idea that came out of the community meeting was to consider using portable planters or some other type of aesthetically pleasing structure in the middle of some intersections to create a sort of “mini roundabout,” Guthrie said.

That, too, would need further study, he said.

But traffic calming only goes so far, Reynolds said.

“My biggest concern, and the one I hear from every person I talk to, is that no matter how narrow you make the street or how many stop signs you put up, motorists are not responding to any traffic calming measure,” she said.

“I’m gratified that the city is willing to do some of these things, but if people are still speeding and running stop signs, it’s not accomplishing our end game,” Reynolds added.

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