Traffic flow, safety issues under study at CC

December 5, 2012
photo - Colorado College students relax on the quad, which is between busy Cascade and Nevada avenues. Photo by Photo courtesy of Colorado College
Colorado College students relax on the quad, which is between busy Cascade and Nevada avenues. Photo by Photo courtesy of Colorado College 

Traffic lights, street parking, student crossing lanes, extended curbs, road maintenance. All of these and more were raised as concerns Tuesday at an open house at Colorado College, hosted by the college’s traffic safety working group.

The group has roughly 40 members, including students, business owners, college faculty, neighborhood association representatives and plenty of other stakeholders. Its mission is to ensure that the downtown campus is as safe as humanly possible.

“I’ve almost been run over,” said CC senior Alyssa Wisler, 21. “People just don’t yield to students all the time.”

Dan Webb, a 20-year-old CC junior, must pull out of a blind corner every time he leaves his parking lot, because cars are allowed to park along the street, on both Nevada and Cascade avenues. He said he’s nearly been hit several times.

“If they don’t stop, it could be really bad,” said Webb, a working group member.

A seven-month study will culminate in a report to be presented to Colorado Springs City Council next spring.

The group has solicited concerns and suggestions from all quarters since its first meeting on Nov. 8. At Tuesday’s open house, comment sheets were handed out to attendees.

Spread out in the center of the room were large maps of both the college and a satellite image of Colorado Springs, and Post-it notes were supplied for people to write down their thoughts and stick them on the maps in relevant areas.

One of the post-its harkened to a controversial plan in 2008 to close two of the four lanes on Cascade Avenue and install traffic roundabouts to force cars to slow down. The 2008 plan was ultimately nixed by City Council, but not before it created a lot of ill will in the community around CC.

But a Post-it on one of the maps Tuesday suggested: “Install strategic roundabouts, Wahsatch (Avenue) to include Cascade.”

And there were obvious memories Tuesday of the fight four years ago. One member of the working group said his main objective is to keep Cascade Avenue the way it is.

“If they change it so the volume of traffic goes down, those cars are going to go somewhere else, possibly side streets,” said Richard Sullivan, 64, a retired executive.

But Al Brody, the 53-year-old chairman of the non-profit advocacy Drive Smart, said Cascade should be narrowed to two traffic lanes.

“That’s really cheap. That’s not major construction. And it drastically makes crossings safer,” Brody said.

There were plenty of other suggestions. A purple sticker placed at the intersection of East Yampa Street and Nevada Avenue read, “Make crosswalk more visible.”

A third Post-it requested “safer bike paths.”

Another read “Enforce auto yield (tickets!).”

Roughly a year and a half ago, the college installed flashing yellow lights at pedestrian crosswalks on Cascade Avenue. When a pedestrian presses a button, the yellow lights flash, and vehicles are supposed to stop.

But that doesn’t always happen, as Wisler pointed out.

In addition to the flashing lights, the downtown college extended the curb in front of Shove Chapel on Nevada Avenue, to make pedestrians more visible. It also installed a drop-off point to allow cars to stop briefly to let out passengers.

The working group’s next session will be Dec. 18. It will be open to the public.

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