17th Street first on new traffic-calming list; Broadway fourth

       Residents from three Westside neighborhoods expressed pleasure this week at the news that traffic calming upgrades may finally be coming their way.
       On an eight-site list that was recently prepared in conjunction with City Planning's Neighborhood Traffic Manage-ment Program (NTMP), the project on 17th Street is ranked first, while Broadway Street is fourth and Holland Park Boulevard fifth, according to David Krauth of Colorado Springs Traffic Engineering.
       Depending on how smoothly plans and contractors come together, the 17th Street work is expected to be underway by late August. To save money, the work will be combined with a separate access-widening project between nearby 18th and St. Vrain streets, he said,
       Each NTMP area will be taken on individually. As soon as one project is done, the city will focus on the next on the list. Krauth said he is “hopeful that the first two or three and possibly four can be done this year. We'll start from the top and go till the money runs out.”
       He said he has $116,000 available. The NTMP typically receives $60,000 annually from the city's general fund.
       The Westside Pioneer contacted Anna England, who four years ago organized the petition to the city about Broadway speeding problems; Karen Pierce, who participated in the 17th Street planning efforts about five years ago; and Philip McGrath, president of the Holland Park Community Association, which first met with NTMP head Kristin Bennett in January 2006.
       Broadway is the only one of the three in which Bennett has previously come back to the neighborhood with final plans, showing the types of upgrades and where they would go. In the past, the city would first put in temporary structures to test for usefulness. The plan now is to cut costs by skipping the temporary step and going straight to permanent installation. That's fine with England, who has seen some temporary structures on her street vandalized. “Get the heck in here and get it done,” she said. “This is not rocket science. Engineers see where this has worked a thousand times before.”
       Pierce and McGrath were also fine with omitting the temporary step. But they did indicate a wish to at least see the plans for their streets beforehand. “There might be some nuance we [the neighborhood residents] would notice,” McGrath commented.
       Traffic Engineering's involvement represents a new strategy for the NTMP, which has been slowed in part by reduced availability from City Engineering staff; also, construction costs have risen “30 to 35 percent over the last few years,” Bennett said in an e-mail.
       The cost aspects only became an issue recently. “The program has received less funding than was initially identified for it,” Bennett explained. “This was unexpected and something we were not aware of when we were working with the neighborhoods currently waiting to be processed, like 17th and Broadway.”
       All three streets share a common fate: They are residential streets that are tempting for “cut-through traffic.” They also are near elementary schools (17th - Buena Vista, Broadway - Midland, and Holland Park - Jackson). Broadway and Holland Park are additionally similar by being abnormally wide, which encourages speeders.
       The neighborhood residents were not aware of the city's plans when interviewed this week. However, Bennett said she will be getting the information out. “I am completing a letter to neighborhood contacts right now,” she said in her e-mail.
       Traffic calming reflects a philosophy that street design can influence how people drive. Changes such as narrowed streets, corner bump-outs, traffic circles and sometimes speed humps have worked effectively that way in other parts of the community, according to city officials.

Westside Pioneer article