Long-awaited stoplight at 24th & Colorado

       For about 25 years, as owner of the Holly Berry House in Old Colorado City, Kathy Read has had a clear view of the intersection at Colorado Avenue and 24th Street.
       “I've seen the most horrific things,” she said, describing numerous near-misses as pedestrians attempt to cross there.
       Read made her comments at a meeting of the Old Colorado City Security & Maintenance District advisory committee Sept. 19.
       A few minutes later, she was applauding with other committee members, after City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager announced that the city plans to put a stoplight there this spring.
       Also among those clapping joyfully was Judy Kasten, a long-time committee member. Before Krager revealed the news, Kasten related how “we've tried for years to get a stoplight there.” A previous city traffic engineer had told the committee in 2006 that a city study indicated a stoplight was unwarranted - not even qualifying for a crosswalk.
       In 2009, the city did put in the current pedestrian-operated LED flashing lights on the west side of Colorado, but according to Kasten “nobody can see them, and they create more of a danger because pedestrians feel they're safe.”
       Krager is a career private-sector engineer who came to Colorado Springs from Denver when hired by the city three years ago. She said she decided a stoplight “is the appropriate thing to do” after monitoring activity at the intersection during the summer-Saturday Farmers Market (on 24th Street between Colorado and Pikes Peak Avenue) about a month ago.
       In full agreement was John Georgeson, chief executive officer of Pikes Peak National Bank, which is located at the southwest corner of Colorado and 24th. People crossing the avenue for the Farmers Market on 24th Street between Colorado and Pikes Peak Avenue “have to fight their way across,” he said.
       Dave Van Ness, executive director of the Old Colorado City Associates (OCCA) business group, was in attendance at the Maintenance District meeting. He said OCCA members also have expressed support of a 24th Street stoplight. Another Westside group that's been talking up the idea is the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN). Krager said this week she plans to talk to both OCCA and OWN in October.
       Regarding installation, Krager told the committee that first Colorado Springs Utilities will need to verify its line locations at the intersection. This is based on what she's learned about the Westside, that “you can't dig an ant hill without hitting utilities.” After that, a professional design will be needed. The light itself is expected to go in by spring and “I have money set aside for it,” she said.
       Krager tempered her announcement with the caveat that she wants to avoid having too many signals in that area. She said an existing pedestrian stoplight - either at the Goodwill mid-block crossing in the 2300 block or at Colbrunn Court in the 2400 block - will probably have to go. Committee members showed a consensus to keep Colbrunn because having it helps shoppers.
       Krager doesn't plan to make an immediate decision on that. But she did note that with Goodwill having relocated most of its operations to Garden of the Gods Road, the Colbrunn light activator gets pushed by pedestrians about four times as often as the one at Goodwill.
       The transportation manager also shared another city plan to help Westside traffic. Through a grant, a computerized “signal detection” project will be implemented on Westside Highway 24 (Cimarron Street) next year that should help traffic flow there. This in turn will reduce the number of vehicles that sometimes use West Colorado in order to circumvent Highway 24 traffic jams, Krager explained.
       Committee Chair Jim Heikes said he'll be pleased with any improvements that might cut speeding in Old Colorado City. “I'm trying to protect the historic district,” he said.
       The Maintenance District committee consists of volunteer members who own property in a specifically defined Old Colorado City area. Using tax money from that area's property owners, the district takes care of its public amenities, such as the brick sidewalks, accent lighting and landscaping.

Westside Pioneer article