Interchange needed at Ridge & Hwy
I have been a proponent for a full interchange with ramps at Highway 24/Ridge Road since the beginning of the planning process for many reasons. This includes convenient access to both Red Rocks Canyon going south and, rarely mentioned, to the Garden of the Gods going north on Ridge Road.
The Westside Pioneer's July 3 article (“Ramps point of contention in Ridge Road/Hwy 24 plans”) states that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) “will not allow funding for ramps based on traffic studies for the year 2035.” Those studies must be in part based on current air-hose traffic counts at the Ridge intersection, which is faulty reasoning given the geological constraints of the area - namely Fountain Creek and the red rock outcroppings themselves, which will never allow a full north-south by east-west grid, either today or in the future.
The real problem, therefore, lies at 31st and Colorado Avenue, which is where CDOT should be doing its traffic counts, and which already and for some time has been approaching inadequate capacity. Coming off the highway and proceeding north on 31st to go to Red Rocks Shopping Center, one turns west on Colorado Avenue. There is a turn lane in the middle of westbound Colorado Avenue, but getting into that turn lane is frequently a game of chicken with cars coming east on Colorado. Similarly, turning east on Colorado Avenue, there is no center turn lane; and turning into Wendy's, for example, is sometimes not possible because of the changing lights and the flow of traffic both north and south on the avenue.
In a similar vein (notice the mining terminology), current traffic counts at the Highway 24/Ridge Road intersection are probably not accurate. I am sure many drivers today avoid that intersection because making a left or right turn into high-speed highway traffic has always been somewhat unsettling. Adding a signal there, in my opinion, is not an option because commuters through Ute Pass do not want yet another light. But the real cave-in is the anticipated future increased density of population in the adjacent area and the possible development of No Man's Land into a bustling boutique, office, restaurant, hotel/motel, townhome and apartment mecca, which will funnel even more traffic into the 31st/Colorado intersection (on top of increasing Red Rock Canyon and Garden of the Gods visitor traffic). When that happens, there is going to be very little that can be done to improve the situation at 31st/Colorado.
If future traffic safety is a concern, we need an interchange with ramps at Highway 24 and Ridge Road.