Petition to city resulting in safer crossing for Uintah’s 2600 block

       With prodding from an outgoing City Council member, not to mention nearly every resident of the 50-unit Katharine Lee Bates apartment building, Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering is planning safety improvements in the 2600 block of West Uintah Street.
       The goal is to make it less dangerous to cross the street to a bus stop on the south side of the street. The stop is convenient for the residents - most of whom are 60 or older - but its location near the top of Uintah's hill limits visibility of (and by) westbound motorists. In addition, with the nearest stoplight at 19th Street and stop sign at 30th, speeds in that part of Uintah have been known to exceed 50 mph.
       The work, expected to start in late May or early June, will include sidewalk “bump-outs” to shorten the crossing distance, as well as flashing beacons (facing either way) that individuals can activate to warn drivers that someone is in the street.
       “I'm really pleased,” commented Julie Brandon, one of the residents. “We've needed something there. I'm also pleased with the way the city officials got going on it.”
       But it most likely wouldn't have happened without some old-fashioned advocacy.
       Barbara Turk, who manages the apartments through the Colorado Springs Housing Authority facility, credited resident Sue Toler for taking the lead on that.
       “I've lived here nine years and Uintah's gotten busier,” Toler said. Also in that time, she's had to start using a walker, as do many others who live at Bates. “The problem is, you get in the middle of the street, and a car comes flying over, and you can't see it until it's almost there,” she described.
       She decided to start a petition. Turk, who had tried without luck to interest the city in the crossing danger several years earlier (the first time she was the Bates manager), helped Toler with the wording, after which “we had nearly everybody sign it,” then forwarded it to City Council and the head of Traffic Engineering.
       Meanwhile, other residents, not willing to wait, unabashedly called in on their own.
       The outgoing council member who helped out is Bernie Herpin (who was defeated in his at-large re-election bid April 3 and will be replaced April 17 by Jan Martin). “I took on this project, partly due to my work with seniors as a 17-year member of the Colorado Springs Police Department's Senior Victim Assistance Team and my desire to repay our seniors for all they had done during their lives,” he said.
       The plans began taking shape at a February meeting including Traffic Engineer-ing officials, the Bates residents, Turk and Herpin.
       “We worked with them on various alternatives,” said Scott Logan of Traffic Engineering.
       It wasn't an easy solution. The traffic volume (7,000 cars a day) was not enough to justify anything like a stoplight or stop sign. A flashing light was possible, but drivers might ignore one that was constantly on.
       So a plan was worked out for a crosswalk and a beacon that residents can turn on for about three minutes whenever they want to cross the street. Adding the bump- outs - which will be enhanced with wheelchair ramps - will narrow the street from 47 to 30 feet, Logan said.
       Afterward, Turk said, “A bunch of thank-you cards, signed by the tenants, went to Traffic. We wanted to let them know how much we appreciate them.”
       She also was glad Herpin had come. “It helped that he's a little bit elderly too,” she said. “The traffic engineers are a little younger. He was able to help the residents understand what was being presented.”
       Now the Bates tenants are eagerly looking forward to the actual construction.
       “I was really thrilled when they said they would do it,” Toler said.
       “This is good, real good,” said Virginia Klingensmith. “We've been working on it a long time.”
       “It's really going to make a difference,” said Dorothy Moreno. “It shows what can happen when you get together to accomplish something.”

Westside Pioneer article