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SIDE STREETS: Ending Old Ranch carnage simple as stopping at red lights

By: BILL VOGRIN
December 2, 2011
0
photo - Traffic was blocked for hours on Oct. 12, 2011, after a two-car wreck at the intersection of Powers Boulevard and Old Ranch Road. One car T-boned the other.   Photo by The Gazette file
Traffic was blocked for hours on Oct. 12, 2011, after a two-car wreck at the intersection of Powers Boulevard and Old Ranch Road. One car T-boned the other. Photo by The Gazette file 

For years, the intersection at Powers Boulevard and Old Ranch Road has been one of the most dangerous in Colorado Springs.

It’s on the far north edge of the city and it's important because hundreds of students, parents and staff drive it each day — some kids even walk it, imagine that —getting to and from Pine Creek High School on the east side of Powers.

But it’s an oddball arrangement where cars roaring along Powers at warp speeds actually are traveling on pavement that someday will be exit and entrance ramps on a full-blown highway interchange.

Eventually, Powers will travel under Old Ranch, once a bridge is built to carry the road.

Similar intersections exist on Powers at Union Boulevard and Briargate Parkway.

The exit ramp design has created a fractured intersection resulting in a lot of fractured cars.

Old Ranch has seen assorted roll-overs, T-bones and collisions with poles.

There was another last week. Maybe you saw the headline. A car spectacularly rolled and smashed two utility poles. The driver, Sherry Parker, 49, of Falcon, suffered serious injuries.

It was the latest of 37 reported at the intersection in three years. Of those, 17 were “right-angle” wrecks, known as T-bones.

Many blame motorists on Powers for all the wrecks and say speeds need to be lowered and bridges built to end the carnage.

I called Dave Krauth, the city’s traffic engineer.

First the good news.

Krauth says construction will begin this spring, perhaps as early as April, on the bridges. The Colorado Department of Transportation agrees the intersections are dangerous and must be fixed. CDOT has appropropriated $9 million and hired a contractor to start construction.

The bad news, it’s unclear exactly when construction of the bridge at Old Ranch will start.

At Union and Briargate, the bridges will carry Powers over the city streets, which will remain open as construction goes on around them.

But because a bridge is needed to carry Old Ranch, there may be a significant delay in construction.

“We’re not sure how they’ll be able to maintain traffic on Old Ranch,” Krauth said. “There’s really no good detour.”

After the work starts, it may be 18 months before everything is done.

As for speed limits on Powers, Krauth is not inclined to lower them.

“The truth is, all but four of the 17 right-angle wrecks were caused by drivers on Old Ranch,” Krauth said. “Not Powers.”

He said most of the wrecks could be easily avoided.

“People need to stop running red lights,” he said. “It’s that simple. Red means red. Red means stop.

“They need to start obeying the traffic lights.”

Maybe we should put some red-light cameras at the intersection. I believe there’s a few spare cameras available!

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