Left-turn lanes to be longer on Highway 24 at 26th Street

       With construction less than three months away, a new element has been added to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (RTA) safety project at 26th Street and Highway 24.

As a pickup driver turns left from westbound Highway 24 onto 26th Street this week, the lane behind him (including a semi tractor) is backed up to the taper point in its current 150-foot lane length.
Westside Pioneer photo

       The highway's left-turn lanes in both directions will be extended to 400 feet - more than double their current lengths. The work is being required by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), according to RTA project manager Colleen Dawson. “The current turn lanes are substandard for the speed limit and lane widths on Highway 24,” she said.
       In addition, motorists will be given 216 feet of what traffic engineers call “taper” (the distance between where the angle starts at the through lane to where the turn lane is fully defined.
       These improvements will provide not just space for more cars in the left-turn lane, but room to decelerate from highway speeds, Dawson explained. “That's what is really missing from the current left-turn lanes,” she said. “People have to slow down in the through lanes.”
       The 26th/Hwy 24 project is expected to go out to bids in early February, with work starting in March or April and taking three to four weeks to complete. “We hope we'll be done by May 1,” Dawson said. “Certainly by Memorial Day.”
       The previous scope consisted only of offsetting the highway's left-turn lanes a few feet at 26th. Offsets allow left-turners to see more easily past those facing them in the left-turn lane in the opposite direction.
       A similar upgrade was included in the 21st Street/Highway 24 safety project last August.
       The added work at 26th doubles the estimated cost of the project, from $50,000 to $100,000, Dawson said. The project is funded by a portion of the RTA budget that's used for making current roads safer.
       The RTA is funded by a 1 percent city sales tax.
       The highway left-turn lanes at 26th Street now have 150 feet of stacking space for westbound traffic and 100 feet for eastbound, with only 125 feet of taper on either side. Dawson said she does not know why the stacking distances are different for west and east.
       The highway was built in the early 1960s.
       The project will make the 26th Street intersection the third to get extended Highway 24 left-turn lanes on the Westside in the past year. The others are at 21st Street (westbound and eastbound) and at 31st (westbound).
       The 26th Street project evolved from accident studies a few years ago showing safety issues on left turns from the highway. A fatal accident on a left turn “got this on our radar,” Dawson said.

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